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Southgate's selection dilemmas heading into World Cup

10 June 2018

Nick Pope welcomed the friendly rivalry among the goalkeepers in England's World Cup squad after he made his debut in the 2-0 friendly win over Costa Rica on Thursday night.

The betting markets have reacted after impressive displays in the final pre-tournament friendly leave Gareth Southgate big decisions to make about who starts for England against Tunisia. BBC say 4%, but should it be higher?

"The moment he is going to be able to increase (the number) of goals he will become one of the best players in the world because he has everything", said City boss Pep Guardiola.

Thursday's worldwide friendly against Costa Rica saw England bag a 2-0 victory - their tenth consecutive match unbeaten.

The dismissal of Costa Rica with substitute Danny Welbeck adding the second goal meant the hosts extended their unbeaten run to 10 games, going back almost a year.

Like his compatriot Wayne Rooney and many other United stars before him, Marcus burst onto the scene at a young age, in his case at just 17 years old, and must be given time to fulfil his true potential. You can see his ability to hold people off, his speed of feet, his strength when he is running with the ball.

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Shooting from distance, Real Madrid's Keylor Navas was powerless to prevent the dipping effort from finding the back of his net (not that Lee Dixon agreed).

It was just reward for a fine first-half performance but England lost some of their rhythm after the break, as Southgate made a number of changes, including handing goalkeeper Nick Pope his first taste of global football.

It looked like another plodding friendly between England and Costa Rica as the Three Lions get their final outing before heading off to Russian Federation.

For all their excitement and everything positive in the first halves of England's matches against Nigeria and Costa Rica, their play slipped after half-time in both games.

But since then, successive England teams have struggled to live up to sometimes unrealistic expectations, failing to win at the World Cup and the European Championships. That has helped break down some of the barriers that were apparent in the build-up to previous tournaments, with England's performances on the field providing further cause for optimism. Rashford only scored seven for runners-up Manchester United, so when you look it at like that, it's a no-brainer; Sterling has to start which is why he's 1/20 to get the nod. Portugal begin their World Cup campaign in Sochi against Spain on June 15. "This year, I feel in better condition and that's good".

Southgate's selection dilemmas heading into World Cup