Published: Fri, March 16, 2018
Sport | By Wendy Sparks

England 'desperate' to attend 2018 FIFA World Cup despite Russia tensions

England 'desperate' to attend 2018 FIFA World Cup despite Russia tensions

Burnley goalkeeper Nick Pope, defender James Tarkowski, Bournemouth midfielder Lewis Cook and Swansea centre back Alfie Mawson are the newcomers to a Three Lions squad without Tottenham's scoring machine Harry Kane, who is out until next month due to an ankle injury.

Gary Cahill, Michael Keane and Chris Smalling are among the players to miss out, but Liverpool duo Jordan Henderson and Adam Lallana - injured earlier in the season - are back and Bournemouth midfielder Lewis Cook could be in line for his first cap.

"They are so far from your mind, so to get to this point is a massive achievement and something I'm really proud of and to share that with my family and friends is something I can't wait do".

Burnley's Pope Tarkowski among England's newcomers
S AFP REUTERS Burnley goalkeeper Nick Pope

"It seems a long way away now and in those times you don't think things like this are even possible", Pope told Clarets Player.

Suggestions the team would boycott the summer tournament have been played down but Southgate admits players' worries will be valid.

An untimely knock means that Tottenham striker Harry Kane is among the notable absentees, with the man hoping to take the armband in Russian Federation this summer set to be sidelined until April with ankle ligament damage.

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"But my job as England football manager is to concentrate on football and prepare the team".

"It is part of our World Cup bingo that we have got going on", he said with a smile.

"I'm very clear. At this stage we want to be keeping options available because as you've seen with Harry, something can happen at the drop of a hat". Who do we need to learn more about to be able to replace some of the first-choice players? "(But) he's now playing in the bigger matches for Arsenal and has had some good performances".

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"It (Russia) is probably something I would raise with them (the squad) just because it is so visible at the moment, it is important whenever there is speculation and uncertainty that you put it into context for everybody".

"We do not have a formal responsibility to everyone who might travel out there but absolutely, clearly we have a sense of wider duty to those individuals who are spending hard-earned money to come and follow England. He is one of the players we are least concerned about in terms of robustness".

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