ENG­LAND ARE EX­CITED NOT FEAR­FUL, IN­SISTS LIN­GARD

Yorkshire Post - Sports Monday - - FRONT PAGE - SIMONPEACH IN REPINO ■ Email: yp.sport@ypn.co.uk ■ Twit­ter: @york­shire­post

JESSE LIN­GARD is en­joy­ing Gareth South­gate’s “new revo­lu­tion” and vowed that Eng­land will re­tain their fear­less ap­proach amid in­creas­ing World Cup pressure.

Colom­bia lie in wait in the last 16 to­mor­row in Moscow where the Three Lions will at­tempt to reach the quar­ter-fi­nals with a first knock­out win since 2006.

It is a mouth-wa­ter­ing op­por­tu­nity for Eng­land’s young squad after promis­ing Group G wins against Tu­nisia and Panama, when per­for­mances as much as re­sults helped bring about re­newed pos­i­tiv­ity around the na­tional team.

Lin­gard can­not wait for to- mor­row’s match and be­lieves a bright fu­ture lies ahead un­der South­gate, who gave the at­tack­ing mid­fielder his de­but on his first match in charge of the Eng­land team.

“It feels like a new revo­lu­tion,” the at­tack­ing mid­fielder said.

“The man­ager has come in with great ideas and a great idea of how he wants us to play.

“The for­ma­tion suits us per­fectly and as a group of lads.

“It’s a youth­ful squad but we’ve still got ex­pe­ri­enced play­ers in there and the team spirit is amaz­ing at the mo­ment – ev­ery­one has come to­gether and is re­ally bond­ing.

“We’re ex­cited, we’re en­joy­ing the World Cup and we have just got to keep go­ing now.”

But ex­cite­ment goes hand in hand with ten­sion at this junc­ture, with Eng­land teams of the past fail­ing to cope with mount­ing pressure.

“We don’t need to change too much,” said Lin­gard, play­ing at his first se­nior tour­na­ment.

“No mat­ter what round we’re in we’re still go­ing to play the same. We’re go­ing to play with no fear and play with that free­dom.

“That’s what got us here to­day, so why change? We won’t change for any­one or any team.

“I think ev­ery­one’s ex­cited more than any­thing

“It’s a great chance for us as play­ers to re­ally go far in this com­pe­ti­tion and we be­lieve in our­selves that we can do that.

“At this mo­ment in time it’s game by game.

“We pre­pare for every game and every op­po­nent is dif­fer­ent, so we go into the game with the same mind­set and the same goal.”

Lin­gard will “en­joy the oc­ca­sion” to­mor­row rather than worry about the pos­si­bil­ity of hav­ing to pack his bags and head home the fol­low­ing day.

The 25-year-old can­not help but dream of a re­turn to Moscow for the July 15 fi­nale, yet the fo­cus now is on over­com­ing a Colom­bia side boast­ing a va­ri­ety of threats – in­clud­ing former Manch­ester United team-mate Radamel Fal­cao.

“A great fin­isher,” he said of the striker, who strug­gled at Chelsea after a dif­fi­cult spell at Old Traf­ford. “I think in and around the box he’s lethal. We’ll be aware of that. But, you know, we’ve got the men to deal with that.

“I think they’re a great side. A tough side, a phys­i­cal side, so we’re aware of that. But our qual­i­ties and our threats can cause them prob­lems too.”

Lin­gard never got to play a com­pet­i­tive match along­side Fal­cao, with the at­tack­ing mid­fielder end­ing the 2014-15 sea­son on loan at Derby as he re­cov­ered from a knee lig­a­ment in­jury sus­tained on his United de­but.

That in­jury on the open­ing day of the cam­paign could eas- ily have meant his first United ap­pear­ance was his last, yet the late de­vel­oper has kicked on and be­come a key fig­ure un­der Jose Mour­inho.

“He’s been great with me,” Lin­gard said of the Por­tuguese, who backed Eng­land as World Cup win­ners be­fore the tour­na­ment.

“He’s put that trust and faith in me to play me in big matches week-in, week-out.

“It was only up to me then to re­pay that faith by play­ing well and putting in per­for­mances.

“He’s played a mas­sive part in my devel­op­ment and I can only thank him for that.”

Lin­gard says that no one in the Eng­land squad will shy away from tak­ing a penalty should the team have to cope with yet an­other dreaded shoot-out at the World Cup in Rus­sia. With the com­pe­ti­tion now at its knock­out stage, ex­tra-time and penal­ties – so of­ten Eng­land’s neme­sis at pre­vi­ous World Cups and Euro­pean tour­na­ments – could be­come a fac­tor.

Asked if the squad had a plan of who would take penal­ties in a shoot-out, Lin­gard said: “Not at this cur­rent mo­ment.

“Of course we are practising them at train­ing and what not. There is not re­ally a set five (tak­ers) yet, but ev­ery­one is con­fi­dent enough to go over and take one.”

Vic­tory over Colom­bia would leave Eng­land fac­ing a quar­ter­fi­nal against Swe­den or Switzer­land.

We’re go­ing to play with no fear and play with that free­dom. Jesse Lin­gard, who says Eng­land will stick to the method em­ployed in the group stage.

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