DOHA, Qatar — Gareth Southgate said he believes England supporters will be united behind his team when they face Wales on Tuesday despite being booed off in their last outing against the United States.
Friday’s dull 0-0 draw at Al Bayt Stadium prompted a negative reaction from some fans as England mustered just one shot on target and laboured for long periods.
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Regardless, Southgate’s side remain top of Group B and need to avoid a four-goal defeat to Wales to reach the round of 16.
Asked for his message to those supporters attending the Ahmad bin Ali Stadium, Southgate said: “I’m not really sure what the thing in the stadium was because when we went over to our fans, I thought they were really good at the end of the game.
“We know there will be a lot of supporters of both countries there. It’s going to be a cracking atmosphere. Our fans will be with us for sure, there’s no question about that.
“I think they know the journey this team has been on over the last two tournaments in particular. We are top of the group at the moment, still a bit to do to qualify and if we win this game, we can win the group. That was the first objective when we set out at the start of the tournament.”
England are expected to make several changes to their starting line-up with Jordan Henderson set to come into midfield, while Phil Foden is pushing to start for the first time at a World Cup.
Southgate said captain Harry Kane is fully fit after suffering a knock in England’s opening win over Iran. He was pictured with strapping on his ankle at the end of the game, but the England manager once again stated the Tottenham Hotspur striker has suffered a different problem to that initially reported.
“Obviously we are going to pick a team we believe can win the game,” Southgate said. “That’s going to be our priority always. He’s [Kane] fine in terms of the knock he had, which even though we keep saying it is his foot, everybody keeps saying it’s his ankle. I don’t quite know why that is but its his foot. He has trained well.”