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Beating England not priority for Belgium boss Martinez

28 June, 2018, 13:42 | Author: Lora Ball
  • England training

I don't think it would be professional for us to risk those players missing a knockout game.

Historically, planning too far ahead has been a very unsafe game and many teams over the years have tripped up when resting players or taking the foot off the pedal to prepare for later matches.

"Tomorrow we want to perform well but the priority is not to win": Roberto Martinez.

Pressed on whether Kane would start against Belgium, Southgate told Talksport: "As a manager you have to think of the whole squad and then your second thought is for individuals and their own situations, and that is a really complex balance in any business where you are managing people".

Southgate is aware that his captain wants to chase more goals and will not put up with a place on the bench, or waste any scoring opportunities.

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Both teams have already qualified for the last 16 and, with one of Colombia, Japan or Senegal lurking in the second round, there has even been some talk that England might have an easier route through the tournament if they lose in Kaliningrad on Thursday. Players have been in very demanding games.

England had quite a torrid time against Tunisia and needed a late injury-time victor from Kane to ensure that they didn't share points.

Gareth Southgate is considering his team selection for the game in Kaliningrad on Thursday, when the section will be claimed, and is expected to make a handful of changes to freshen up his side's approach.

He said: "We have not won a knockout game since 2006".

Something else on the line tomorrow will be pride, or perhaps the moral high ground. The Belgians, though, are known for their pragmatism and may not be as anxious about this perception of right and wrong, if the pre-game chatter is to be believed.

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Despite the strength of all these potential opponents, the English fans, media and undoubtedly the team management are already glancing past the round of 16 to see who may be waiting for them in the quarter or semifinals.

Wednesday was the two-year anniversary of the Euro 2016 humiliation against Iceland - a time when Southgate could never have imagined leading his country into this World Cup.

Romelu Lukaku, Eden Hazard, Kevin de Bruyne and Toby Alderweireld are among the Belgium players who are with Premier League clubs.

However, Lukaku does look likely to be rested after picking up a minor injury niggle, while Kane may also be rested to give either Jamie Vardy or Marcus Rashford an opportunity to make their impression on the cup. "Play to win, until the final whistle".

Both sides have 100 per cent records in the competition, and Martinez voiced his admiration for England.

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