England manager Gareth Southgate intends to keep changes to a minimum as his side take on Belgium in the World Cup’s third-place play-off.
It has been suggested Southgate could radically alter his team to give some of his fringe players a run-out as England bow out in Russia in the bronze-medal match in St Petersburg. The third-place play-off match is a farce, after all.
But while Southgate will assess the fitness levels of his players, he does not want to deviate too far from what has become a settled line-up – as he looks to aids his side’s World Cup odds.
Speaking at his pre-match press conference, Southgate said: “We have to decide who can go again physically. Everyone wants to play but sometimes it is not a good decision to play someone if their energy is not quite there.
“We have to think who can give us the best performance. It won’t be the same XI but, ideally, we want to make as few changes as possible.”
Southgate admits it has been tough to come to terms with Wednesday’s semi-final heartbreak at the hands of Croatia but he insists motivation will not be a problem this weekend.
He said: “Emotionally it has been a difficult few days but the players are incredible. They are a pleasure to work with. They have an energy and desire.
“We want to finish the tournament well. We have set a standard of how we work and how we play and we want to aspire to that level every time we go out.
“We have high motivation to perform. We have a chance to win a medal at a World Cup, which only one other English team has ever done.
“There is a lot of motivation for us and Belgium have already beaten us, so we would like to address that as well.”