Ryan Bertrand feels Gareth Southgate’s suggestion that some players were lucky to be selected for the current England squad may well act as a motivator.
Three Lions boss Southgate said last week, as his squad for the World Cup qualifiers against Slovenia and Lithuania was announced, that “you could well argue there are one or two in the squad who haven’t necessarily warranted it on their performances”.
Asked on Monday how the squad had reacted to that remark, defender Bertrand said: “I’ve seen no real reaction.
“I’m not sure in which sense he meant that. I’m sure it wasn’t a bad sense. The boys have come in and got on as normal.”
But when then asked if it could help motivate, he said: “Definitely.
“I think here we have fantastic competition for places, which is only good for the squad. Every chance we get, we’ll be sure to take it.”
England host Slovenia on Thursday before playing Lithuania away three days later in their two remaining Group F games.
Southgate’s men are on the brink of securing qualification, with them currently lying five points clear at the top of the pool.
England’s last tournament outing saw them make an embarrassing exit from Euro 2016 – which they had gone into having had a 100 per cent record in qualifying – in the last-16 as they were beaten 2-1 by Iceland.
Asked how confident he was that England will make a positive impact next summer in Russia, Bertrand said: “I’m very confident.
“We’ve had a few learning curves in this qualifying campaign – it hasn’t been plain sailing, as it probably was in previous years – and as a team we’ve come through them and we’re getting stronger and stronger, on and off the field.”
He added regarding qualification: ”It’s not over. The work isn’t finished. We want to get six points.
“It would be nice to complete the qualification in front of our fans at Wembley.”