Thursday 18 October 2018

England number one Jordan Pickford eyeing top-spot in Group G

The Three Lions face Belgium on Thursday aiming to progress as group winners.

Jordan Pickford has eyes for top spot (Owen Humphreys/PA)
Jordan Pickford has eyes for top spot (Owen Humphreys/PA)

By Press Association Sport staff

Jordan Pickford insists England will go all-out to win their Group G decider against Belgium – even if it could lead to a harder path to any World Cup success.

Gareth Southgate’s side come up against Belgium in Kaliningrad on Thursday night in what is essentially a play-off for first place, with both nations having won their opening two fixtures.

England will be in good spirits after their 6-1 thrashing of Panama at the weekend but there has been a suggestion that finishing second in the group may be beneficial to potentially avoid some of the World Cup’s biggest hitters later in the draw.

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England captain Harry Kane scored a hat-trick in the 6-1 win over Panama (Adam Davy/PA)

Pickford does not buy into that theory and instead wants the Three Lions to focus on maintaining their winning start in Russia.

“Our mentality is to win every game we play – and we want to win every game,” the Everton goalkeeper said.

“I feel that if we win every game it just keeps building momentum to keep going in the tournament.

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Pickford spoke to the media from England’s base in Repino (Owen Humphreys/PA)

“We know Belgium are a tough opponent and we need to be on our A-game to get the win and I feel our squad, in the camp, we want to win every game so we can’t be looking into that.

“It doesn’t matter who we play next because to get as far as you can, to get to the final, you have to play these top teams and either way you have to face them so if we play them early, that is how it is going to be.

“Before the World Cup started we faced four of the top 10 in the world, held our own and played very good football and kept clean sheets as well.

“We are ready to face these big teams and we know how good we are and what to expect from ourselves.”

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England boss Gareth Southgate may decide to make changes to his team against Belgium (Adam Davy/PA)

Given progression from Group G is assured, the main question heading into the Belgium encounter is whether or not Southgate will make a number of alterations to his side to freshen things up.

Pickford could be one of those who is rotated, with Jack Butland a potential replacement, and he feels the whole squad is ready to perform when called upon.

“It is a team game, there are 23 players and all 23 who are in the squad are fighting for their places,” he said.

“It is so tough to call who is going to play because the ability in the squad is unbelievable and that is what will take us as far as we can go.”

Press Association

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