SOUTH­GATE OPENS DOOR TO DE­FOE

Vet­eran striker in the run­ning for World Cup spot, says Eng­land coach

New Straits Times - - Sport -

LON­DON Kane and Daniel Stur­ridge.

“I think we’ve got to look ev­ery time we get to­gether as to who is in form,” South­gate said at Wem­b­ley.

“I don’t know if we can have a dis­tinct peck­ing or­der be­cause play­ers who are play­ing well de­serve the op­por­tu­nity. If we are go­ing to be suc­cess­ful, we have to have that com­pe­ti­tion for places.

“The re­al­ity is we will al­ways lose play­ers to in­jury. We’re never able to pick a full co­hort, so it’s im­por­tant we can call upon the likes of Jer­main and he can have the im­pact he does like he did to­day.

“If he scores like he is in the Premier League, there’s no rea­son why he wouldn’t be (picked for the World Cup).”

De­foe’s 20th in­ter­na­tional goal ar­rived in the 22nd minute as he di­rected a side-foot shot past Ernes­tas Setkus fol­low­ing a burst down the left by Ra­heem Ster­ling.

Sub­sti­tute Jamie Vardy notched the hosts’ sec­ond in the 66th minute, fin­ish­ing coolly af­ter be­ing set up by Adam Lal­lana’s ex­quis­ite flicked pass.

Ster­ling and Lal­lana were given free­dom to roam along­side Dele Alli in Eng­land’s 4-2-3-1 sys­tem and South­gate hailed their con­tri­bu­tions.

“He’s a player we re­ally like,” South­gate said of Manch­ester City winger Ster­ling.

“We don’t have a lot of play­ers in the coun­try who can beat peo­ple in one-ver­sus-one sit­u­a­tions and he’s ex­plo­sive in those types of ar­eas.

“He’s im­prov­ing all the time and has the hunger and de­sire to im­prove. He’s a ballsy player and I like that about him as well.”

On Lal­lana, he added: “Adam in­jects some­thing. He cre­ated a re­ally good open­ing just be­fore the first goal. The game in tight ar­eas is where his quick feet and quick brain stand out.

“There weren’t so many op­por­tu­ni­ties for us to turn the ball over high up the pitch, but he starts that press off. I’m re­ally of the Scot­tish fans.

“Chris Martin gets a good re­cep­tion from the play­ers and the staff. That is why we pick him,” Stra­chan said. im­pressed with his men­tal­ity and qual­ity.”

Hav­ing suc­cess­fully tri­alled a 34-2-1 for­ma­tion in last week’s 1-0 friendly loss to Ger­many, South­gate opted for a 4-2-3-1 shape against Lithua­nia.

“The good thing now is ev­ery coach who plays against us has got to pre­pare for two sys­tems,” he said. “They’re go­ing to have to work a bit harder, which is great.”

Vic­tory left Eng­land four points clear at the top of UEFA qual­i­fy­ing Group F, but ahead of June’s trip to old foes Scot­land, South­gate sounded a note of cau­tion.

“The group is in our hands, which is the most im­por­tant thing,” he said.

“But we know what Scot­land will be like and we have to play on a plas­tic pitch in Lithua­nia. We have to keep im­prov­ing with ev­ery per­for­mance.”

De­feat saw Lithua­nia’s hopes of qual­i­fy­ing for a first ma­jor tour­na­ment re­cede fur­ther, but man­ager Edgaras Jankauskas said his side would draw en­cour­age­ment from their bat­tling dis­play.

“We know how much work we have to do to im­prove,” said Jankauskas.

“But we have qual­i­ties that can guide that im­prove­ment — ded­i­ca­tion, ap­pli­ca­tion, which are qual­i­ties we showed to­day. I think ev­ery­one can see that.” AFP

“He is in great com­pany. Kenny Dal­glish was booed, so was Gary McAl­lis­ter, so was Alan Hansen. He must be some player.”

Stra­chan also had ex­trav­a­gant praise for the Celtic mid­field new­comer Arm­strong. “I think his could be the best Scot­tish de­but I have ever seen,” said the man­ager. Reuters

Scot­land’s Chris Martin shoots to score against Slove­nia in their World Cup qual­i­fier at Ham­p­den Park on Sun­day.

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