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England boss Gareth Southgate guarding against complacency ahead of Poland clash

England Training – Hotspur Way Training Ground – Saturday 4th September
(Image credit: Nick Potts)

Gareth Southgate has warned England not to be complacent ahead of their World Cup qualifier in Poland.

The Three Lions are top of Group I after winning all five of their matches so far, but face their sternest test yet in Warsaw on Wednesday.

Back-to-back 4-0 wins over Hungary and Andorra have only added to the feel-good factor of the Euro 2020 finalists, but Southgate is cautious prior to facing second-placed Poland.

“As a team, we have to recognise we are in a good moment and the team is playing well,” the boss told a pre-match press conference.

“We have a squad of players, any of whom are more than comfortable to play and are playing well.

“But also those moments are dangerous because, if we get any sense of complacency, we are going into a game that will be a challenge.

“It is a high level of motivation but also guarding against a feeling we are better than we are. We are getting a good set of results because we are working hard for each other.”

Southgate made 11 changes for Sunday’s 4-0 win over Andorra, but insisted it will not be a straightforward decision to revert back to the side which won impressively in Hungary last week.

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“You could argue over what is our strongest team but the team that played in Hungary, we were obviously able to rest those guys after the game,” he added.

“There is still huge competition for places in this group and it is not so straightforward to say we won that game and this team will go again and give the same level of performance.

“The challenge of the game in Poland will be different. The problems you get on the night can be different so we can’t drift on the night.”

Hungary v England – FIFA World Cup 2022 – European Qualifying – Group I – Puskas Arena

Raheem Sterling was among the England players targeted with racist abuse in Budapest (Attila Trenka/PA)

England players were subjected to racism during their last away qualifier in Budapest on Thursday.

While Southgate would not be drawn on the prospects of facing a similar scenario in Warsaw, he knows keeping possession is key to quietening the home crowd.

The 51-year-old said: “We have to approach the game as we did the other night. We know keeping possession of the ball can be a big factor in managing those situations.

“But the flow of the game will be different and we are playing a level of opponent who I think is in a better moment.

“They have won their last two games and have better footballers in the team who will keep the ball a little bit better than Hungary were able to against us.”

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When England beat Poland 2-1 at Wembley in March, the visitors were without record goalscorer Robert Lewandowski.

He is back to lead the line on Wednesday and Three Lions goalkeeper Jordan Pickford is excited about the challenge of facing the Bayern Munich striker.

“I have just worked hard all week,” the Everton player said.

“I have done my stuff with the other keepers and will just be 100 per cent on the training pitch leading up to match-day.

“We know they are a top side and he is a top striker, so we will focus on certain areas and be ready for anything.”