Fresh start for Eng­land as Keane says South­gate has ‘nasty streak’

The Sun (Malaysia) - - SPORTS -

ENG­LAND’S World Cup qual­i­fy­ing match against Malta to­mor­row will sig­nal a fresh start for the na­tional team af­ter a dif­fi­cult few months, de­fender John Stones said yes­ter­day.

Eng­land suf­fered a hu­mil­i­at­ing round of 16 loss to Ice­land in the Euro­pean Cham­pi­onship and last week parted com­pany with man­ager Sam Al­lardyce fol­low­ing an un­der­cover news­pa­per sting.

A late Adam Lal­lana goal gave Eng­land a 1-0 win over Slo­vakia in their open­ing Group F qual­i­fier, Al­lardyce’s only game in charge.

“Malta will be a big oc­ca­sion for us per­son­ally, back on home turf, new man­ager and ex­cit­ing times for us as play­ers as well,” Stones told re­porters.

“It’s a dif­fer­ent chap­ter and a new chal­lenge ahead of us.

“We all want to come here and win things, didn’t hap­pen in the sum­mer it’s al­most a fresh start lead­ing to the World Cup and take it game by game in the group stages, and two good wins will put us in a good spot in the group.”

The 22-year-old said the ex­pe­ri­ence of play­ers such as cap­tain Wayne Rooney had been vi­tal.

“They are mas­sive for me per­son­ally and the young boys com­ing through, giv­ing us poin­t­ers in games, sit­u­a­tions and when things are not go­ing well,” Stones added.

“They have been there and been through those ex­pe­ri­ences be­fore and it’s kind of new for us in some re­spects.

“They are mas­sive for the group. It’s great we all get along. We have a great team spirit about us.”

The Manch­ester City de­fender also backed in­terim boss Gareth South­gate to get the job per­ma­nently.

“He knows all the play­ers in the set-up. He’s been great for the U21’s when I’ve been there, he’s got sil­ver­ware in the sum­mer,” Stones added.

“A new chap­ter for him and a new chal­lenge for him, he’ll be rel­ish­ing it, com­ing here work­ing and try­ing to do his best in the four games and what­ever hap­pens af­ter that it is down to the FA.”

South­gate also came in for praise from an un­likely source – Roy Keane.

In a rare en­dorse­ment, the Repub­lic of Ire­land as­sis­tant boss warned that South­gate has a hid­den nasty streak, de­spite his “good-guy” per­sona.

“I like Gareth,” said Keane, who has spent the last three years work­ing along­side Martin O’Neill.

“He is a good guy. I re­mem­ber he tried to break my leg in a cup semi­fi­nal. Luck­ily, I got out of the way (Keane was sent off for stamp­ing on South­gate).

“Be­sides that, I try not to hold that against him. I bumped into him two or three weeks ago, watching Barns­ley and Read­ing, then the other night I bumped into him at Ever­ton and Palace, so he has gone up in the world… He is one of the good guys.”

The for­mer Mid­dles­brough man­ager will man­age Eng­land for their next four World Cup qual­i­fiers as the FA seeks to find a long-term re­place­ment for Al­lardyce and Keane reck­ons he’s much tougher than peo­ple be­lieve.

“There is only one way to find out if he is up to the chal­lenge of man­ag­ing Eng­land. He’s got that op­por­tu­nity now. There are al­ways pluses and mi­nuses to any job.

“The me­dia have asked, ‘Does he de­serve it?’ He did well at Mid­dles­brough, so we’ll see how he does.

“Is he tough enough to do it? I haven’t seen him work at club level or in­ter­na­tional level, but for Gareth to be around the game for as long as he has been, he must have that (nasty) streak in him. Ob­vi­ously, he is not as nasty as me …” – Reuters/The Independent

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