Gareth Southgate has warned against complacency creeping into his England side ahead on this evening’s World Cup qualifying clash with Poland.
The Three Lions go into the game sitting pretty at the top of Group I at the halfway stage of qualifying, winning all five of their qualification matches so far to leave them five points clear of tonight’s opponents.
They overcame a hostile atmosphere to beat Hungary last week before seeing off minnows Andora at Wembley at the weekend, with a win in Warsaw putting them on the cusp of qualification for next year’s tournament in Qatar.
Speaking ahead of the game, manager Southgate said that there is plenty of confidence within his side, but warned against letting their standards slip against a side spearheaded by the prolific presence of Robert Lewandowski
“Without doubt there’s that confidence in the team, which can only come from the evidence of being able to achieve results and performances that have led to those results,” Southgate said at his pre-match press conference. “We saw that in Hungary, the way they approached the game, the belief, but also that bit of additional motivation from not having quite got to where we wanted to. That’s a good position for us to be in.
“But that has to be worked at every day. Any slipping of those standards, any suggestion we can win matches by taking our foot off the gas, then we’ll be in trouble. The level of competition is too high. The test of any match gives you different problems to solve during the evening. While it’s enjoyable to be with this team at the moment, that also can be a dangerous moment if we allow standards to slip.”
The qualification campaign straddles what was England’s best showing at a major tournament in 55 years, ultimately being beaten on penalties by Italy in the showpiece final at Wembley earlier this summer to follow up on their run to the semi-finals at the 2018 World Cup.
England fans and players alike have become used to the sinking feeling of disappointment over the years, and Southgate says his players should enjoy it while it lasts.
“I think we should just enjoy it while it’s going well,” Southgate said. “There’s days where you’re having a quiet day and I used to think: ‘Ok, what’s going to happen?’ You go looking for problems when actually you might as well just enjoy those days and have an extra 20 minutes on the sofa because you know the challenges will come.”