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Southgate tells his players: Let’s excite Wembley crowd


England manager Gareth Southgate says his side has a responsibility to excite the crowd at Wembley Stadium where they will host Slovakia in the 2018 World Cup qualifiers.

The Three Lions defeated Malta 4-0 in their last match but weren’t as imposing as the scoreline suggested, as they scored three of their four goals in the last six minutes, including two in injury time.

This time against Slovakia, Southgate wants his men not only to target the victory but also play with zest to give the home crowd at Wembley something to cheer for.

“We have some exciting players and we want to show that,” said Southgate.

“We have a responsibility to get the Wembley crowd on their feet but equally, everywhere we go in the world the home crowd give the team a lift,” added the boss. “It will be great if we can get the level of support that stadium can bring.”

“The whole country wants to be at the World Cup. It is a great opportunity for us.”

England lead Group F after seven qualifying matches but are just two points ahead of Slovakia, so a win will take them five points clear of their opponents with two fixtures left to play.


According to Southgate, England youngster Marcus Rashford is a possible starter against Malta, but he is trying to ease the 19-year-old into the pace of international football and is also weighing other options.

“He [Rashford] is a talent with high potential and we really like his mentality,” said Southgate of Rashford. “He has been playing very well for Manchester United this season and we wouldn’t hesitate to start him.

“Starting him was a possibility in malta but he missed some of the training, not only with us but the week before with his club. We have been looking after him a bit.

“I have a lovely dilemma with regard to our attacking positions,” added the manager. We made three excellent changes the other night and got a very positive reaction and I also had Daniel Sturridge and Jermain Defore sat next to me.”