Southgate and Kane press home message on England high standards

  • Stones: ‘If you’re sloppy with little things, bigger things follow’
  • England take on Senegal on Sunday for place in quarter-finals

Gareth Southgate and Harry Kane have used a team meeting to urge England’s players not to let their standards slip before Sunday’s last-16 tie against Senegal.

John Stones revealed that good behaviour was top of the agenda when Kane and Southgate spoke to the squad on Friday morning. The head coach and captain were joined by other members of the leadership group in delivering the message, with the focus on ensuring that nothing is left to chance as England step up their push for World Cup glory.

“We spoke briefly as a team [about] not letting any standards drop,” Stones said. “Whether it might be putting your kit the right way for the kit men, putting out socks the right way for the kit men – we get on each other for things like that because we have created those standards.”

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England will be favourites against Senegal but they will not be complacent after seeing Belgium, Germany and Denmark crash out during the group stage. “Those little things keep you on the right path,” Stones said. “We spoke about the big nations that have gone. That can’t be ourselves and that goes with all the little things that we have been doing. All the good traits we have as a team or players, we can’t let those slide.”

Stones was asked to elaborate on what keeping standards high entails. “I really think it’s the small things,” the defender said. “For your teammates, not being late to meetings. I mentioned the kit. If you start getting sloppy with the little things, the bigger things start to get sloppy very easy. I think it was just a quiet reminder from everyone that we need to keep our standards. We’re here together and we should respect each other, and we are all fighting for the same thing.

“Obviously those are small things but they matter to us, and that transfers on to the training pitch, where if we’ve been sloppy off it we might be sloppy on it. We’ve got to train well, we’ve got to fight for each other, we’ve got to do the small details well. The one or two percent we can improve on as players, we’re consciously thinking about leading into matches. So when we get there, we know we’ve ticked every box.”


Jacob Steinberg in Doha

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