England belief is growing, says captain Harry Kane ahead of France clash

England captain Harry Kane feels belief is building that their squad is good enough to win the World Cup.

Gareth Southgate’s side take on reigning champions France in the quarter-finals on Saturday.

The Tottenham striker said: “Looking back in 2018, we didn’t really know what to expect from the group.

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“We went there with belief we could win it, but it was almost a new experience. We got to the semi-finals and everyone was over the moon, but whether we had full belief to go and win the tournament, I am not sure.

“But we backed that up by reaching the final of the Euros and the belief has been growing.

“We lost in the Euros by a couple of kicks of the ball and we have entered this tournament believing we can win and it is about trying to push on. We go into the (France) game with more belief than we did in 2018.

“We know that we’re a very good team and there are good teams in this tournament. If we did lose tomorrow, we would be as disappointed as anyone.

“Between us and everyone involved we have a real belief and determination to be successful on the pitch.”

Kane said he had not spoken to his Spurs team-mate Hugo Lloris, the France goalkeeper, ahead of the game.

England manager Gareth Southgate faces the media on Friday
England manager Gareth Southgate faces the media on Friday (Martin Rickett/PA).

“He is a really good guy, one of the best goalkeepers in the world,” Kane said. “For a game like this, we are not friends for sure and go to have a good battle against each other.

“I have known him for a long time and can’t speak highly enough of him.

“I will enjoy playing against him if we win, but know he will be doing everything to make France win.”

Southgate has a decision to make over what role Raheem Sterling will play against the French.

The 28-year-old Chelsea forward did not feature in the last-16 win over Senegal because of concerns over his family’s wellbeing following an incident at his home in Surrey.

Raheem Sterling trains with England on Friday
Raheem Sterling trains with England on Friday (Martin Rickett/PA).

Sterling flew back to the UK to deal with the matter but has linked back up with England again in Qatar and was part of the 25-man group training at the Al Wakrah Sports Complex on Friday afternoon.

“I have spoken briefly with Raheem at training and we will speak (again) later on,” the England boss said.

“He wanted to train today. Normally we wouldn’t do that, with him having been on a long flight, but it was a lighter session.

“He will be involved tomorrow, but what that looks like I have got to decide.”

Southgate insisted Kyle Walker, who had been a fitness doubt before the tournament, would be ready to shackle France dangerman Kylian Mbappe if required.

Kyle Walker
Kyle Walker is set to be a key man for England against France (Martin Rickett/PA).

“We always wanted to give Kyle the opportunity to be fit as he has been a very important player for us over the last six years,” the England manager said of the Manchester City defender.

“Kyle is ready. We are talking about one of the opposition, but France are a fantastic team and we are aware of all of their players.

“(France manager) Didier (Deschamps) has created a team that is stronger than the individuals, which maybe wasn’t always the case and we have to be at our very best to win the game.”

Southgate feels England’s run to the semi-finals of the last World Cup and subsequent progress to the final of Euro 2020 last summer can only stand them in good stead for the encounter at the Al Bayt Stadium.

“In terms of our experiences, those big matches are important reference points for the team,” he said.

“There have been some defeats that hurt that prepare you for nights like tomorrow where you have to be the very best version of yourself.

“We are ready to fight France for that place in the semi-finals.”

Harry Kane will be going up against Tottenham team-mate Hugo Lloris
Harry Kane will be going up against Tottenham team-mate Hugo Lloris (Joe Giddens/PA).

Southgate maintained England do have a plan should the match have to be settled on penalties.

On the prospect of facing club-mate Lloris from the spot, Kane said: “I am always someone who backs myself against any goalkeeper, and hopefully tomorrow I will be able to have chances to put away.

“I know I have to be at the top of my game to do that. I try to prepare as well as I can and be free and let my instinct take over.”