World Cup 2018: England boss Gareth Southgate hints Jordan Pickford to start in Russia

Jordan Pickford looks set to start for England when they begin their World Cup campaign against Tunisia
Pickford has represented England at every age group level from under-16

Gareth Southgate has hinted goalkeeper Jordan Pickford will start for England in their opening World Cup game with Tunisia on Monday, 18 June.

The Everton keeper, 24, was in goal as England beat Nigeria 2-1 in their first warm-up match at Wembley on Saturday.

England boss Southgate said: "There was a bit of a statement with the selection of Jordan. His decision making was good although he was rarely tested."

Stoke's Jack Butland and Burnley's Nick Pope are also in the 23-man squad.

Pickford made his third appearance for England on Saturday, while 25-year-old Butland has won seven caps and Pope, 26, is yet to make his debut.

'Bright' Sterling pleases Southgate

Raheem Sterling was chosen to start for England after it was revealed the Manchester City forward arrived late for Southgate's pre-World Cup training camp when the squad assembled last month.

The 23-year-old spurned a number of chances to score at Wembley before being cautioned for diving in the second half.

"I haven't looked at the incident but I thought he worked really hard for us and his counter-attacking was a real problem for the opposition," said Southgate.

"Nigeria are one of the few teams that could actually handle his pace but I thought he was very bright and his movement was good.

"Raheem dropping deep and collecting the ball meant we were able to flood the midfield so I was happy with his performance."

Raheem Sterling runs with the ball
Sterling lasted 73 minutes at Wembley before being replaced by Marcus Rashford

Front four impress

Goals from Gary Cahill and Harry Kane rewarded England's first-half dominance at Wembley before Nigeria produced an improved display in the second period, pulling one back through Arsenal forward Alex Iwobi.

"I was really pleased with the first half. I thought we used the ball well and were a threat going forward," said Southgate.

"I liked the interchange of movement and the passing between our front four. We were then able to win the ball back with our pressing.

"In the second half we were slow to start and it took us a little while to adjust to them changing shape. What it created was a great atmosphere behind our goal for us to defend properly and manage the game which was important."

Cahill caps return with a goal

Gary Cahill scored the first goal of the game with a header
Gary Cahill scored the first goal of the game with a header

Man-of-the-match Cahill was playing in an England shirt for the first time since October 2017 and Southgate said: "Gary is deservedly back in the squad with the way he finished the season with Chelsea.

"It was a great header and we have been working on set-plays. Kieran Trippier's ball in was brilliant."

Having won 59 caps for his country, Cahill is the most experienced player in England's World Cup squad

The 32-year-old said on ITV: "If you have the opportunity to play you can show what you do at club level, and I finished the season strongly so I am glad to be in the squad.

"The first half we felt comfortable, moved the ball quickly and dominated but a lack of concentration early in the second half let us down. After 10 minutes we got to grips with their shape and managed the game well."

Goals are around the corner for Sterling - Cahill

Cahill also praised Sterling for the way he has handled being in the headlines this week over his gun tattoo.

He said: "It is to be expected but at the same time it would be nice if it was positive.

"Nevertheless, Raheem has been fantastic with it all, he manages that situation very, very well. He has kept working hard, kept his focus and I think you saw a performance that, apart from scoring a goal, he was very lively. So credit to him.

Captain Kane, who scored his eighth goal in his last seven appearances for England, told ITV: "It was a good win against a tough side. We were excellent in the first half and created a lot of chances.

"l feel at my best. It was great to score - it's always nice for a striker and now I'm looking forward to the game on Thursday."

England play their final warm-up game against Costa Rica at Elland Road, Leeds on Thursday, 7 June.


Former England international Chris Waddle on BBC Radio 5 live:

I thought England played very well in the first-half against a poor Nigeria side. But the visitors made their changes in the second-half and made a game of it.

I don't think we got a lot of answers though because Nigeria just lay down in the first period and let England do what they want.

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