World Cup 2018: 7 days to go

Harry Kane calls for self-belief to inspire England

England's striker Harry Kane attends an open training session at St George's Park in Burton-on-Trent, on June 6, 2018.
England's striker Harry Kane attends an open training session at St George's Park in Burton-on-Trent, on June 6, 2018.PHOTO: AFP

His team-mates believe they have the skill, mentality and unity to win 1st title since 1966

LONDON • Harry Kane has urged his England team-mates to put the negativity that has blighted previous campaigns behind them as a new-look squad look to make an impact at the World Cup Finals which start next week.

Kane, who was speaking ahead of the team's final warm-up match against Costa Rica today, will captain a youthful group in Russia with only Chelsea defender Gary Cahill having won more than 50 caps.

England have not won a major tournament since the 1966 World Cup and Tottenham striker Kane is hopeful that inexperience will also mean Gareth Southgate's squad will be less fearful.

"The main thing is to believe it can be different," he said at England's media day on Tuesday.

"It's been tough because for the last 50 years, we haven't won anything. But we've got to stay focused on ourselves and not worry about the teams in the past.

"We're our own team and our own identity. We've got to enjoy the occasion and we can't wait to get out there and get started."

Kane will not only carry the burden of leadership, but will also be expected to score the goals to carry England deep into the tournament after a best-ever return of 41 this season, despite suffering an ankle ligament injury in March.

The 24-year-old took a few weeks to rediscover his best form after a three-week layoff.

But, after ending the club season with five goals in six games, he also netted his 13th international goal as England beat Nigeria 2-1 at Wembley last Saturday.

"I feel really good and training has been of a high intensity," he added.

 
 

"It's been a tough camp and that's what we all needed. It was good to get some minutes on the weekend and I'm fully refreshed."

Forward Raheem Sterling has also said that England will not be satisfied with reaching the quarter-finals of the World Cup as they have the skill and mentality to win the tournament.

Fans and pundits have muted expectations of England's World Cup campaign, given the team's underwhelming displays at the 2014 World Cup and the 2016 European Championships but Sterling has bolder ambitions.

"I'm not coming here to spend four, five, six weeks of my life to say, 'Let's see what happens and hopefully last 16'," the Manchester City player told reporters.

"We've got 23 very good players and we all have the mentality to say that we're going to win the games that we win and what can stop us?

"A quarter-final won't be good enough at all, because you want to win it."

England full-back Kyle Walker believes that the unity within the squad will be key if the team are to go deep in Russia.

"We all click, I feel quite comfortable sitting with anyone and talking to them," the City defender said.

"That's the environment that we need to take into the World Cup because the quality in the team is going to show for itself but also the togetherness is going to pull us through."

England open their World Cup campaign against Group G rivals Tunisia on June 18 before facing Panama and Belgium.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 07, 2018, with the headline 'Kane calls for self-belief to inspire England'. Print Edition | Subscribe