England's Phil Jones relishing prospect of Romelu Lukaku challenge

England's Phil Jones relishing prospect of Romelu Lukaku challenge

Cape Town - Belgium striker Romelu Lukaku remains a doubt for their Soccer World Cup game against England after missing training on Tuesday. "We lost the first two games and then we were out the competition". We know Belgium and England are through to the round of 16, but now we have to see who finishes in first place. I wanted it to go well for Roy and I wanted it to go well for Sam.

"Not many players score a hat trick in the World Cup, so I'm extremely proud of that", he said.

"I want to continue, the form I'm in, but whatever decision the gaffer makes we'll get behind".

Both teams have beaten Tunisia and Panama to reach six points and secure passage to the last 16, so the anticipated battle between the two strongest sides in the group has lost its edge.

Southgate is such an admirer of Germany's national team, indeed he has trawled through hours of tapes to study their secrets, right down to the small details such as how many free-kicks the five-times world champions concede in their own half (answer: very few). Yet a troubled start for Germany means the Group G victor risks coming across either the defending champions or a feared Brazil earlier in the knockout rounds.

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"Indirectly, they've had a big bearing on what we're doing now, but in sport and in life you have to keep evolving". "We've learned an enormous amount from studying Germany as a team, last summer [at the Confederations Cup] not least, and implemented that".

Harry Kane (24), Raheem Sterling (23), John Stones (24), Dele Alli (22), Jesse Lingard (25), Marcus Rashford (20) and Eric Dier (24) should all still be around in Qatar, with Trent Alexander-Arnold (19) and Ruben Loftus-Cheek (22) also emerging as stars of the future. We're building a team that everyone back home can see are passionate to play for England, that want to win every time they go out and are improving every time.

The group stage draws to a close on Thursday with one of its most eagerly anticipated games, the calendar serving up a delicious showdown between England and Belgium.

But while the English are probably the last nation to want the burden of being billed as football's next golden generation, is it really so unrealistic to suggest that Southgate may actually be nurturing exactly that?

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