Jones: England players have a tight bond

Marcus Rashford

Marcus Rashford missed England training for a second successive day Credit afp

Manchester United forward Marcus Rashford has returned to England after overcoming a minor knee problem, putting the 20-year-old back in contention for the Three Lions' opening game against Tunisia in Volgograd on Monday night. They crashed out at the World Cup group stage four years ago and were shocked by minnows Iceland in the last 16 of Euro 2016.

England will "play without fear" at the World Cup thanks to the mentality of manager Gareth Southgate, according to Jesse Lingard.

"They are very confident, very comfortable on the ball, so we will have to be on our toes and implement our game plan spot on to get the win".

Southgate and his trusted assistant Steve Holland have been preparing England's players for the requirement to travel hard yards if they need to as they prepare for the searing heat of Volgograd. Whatever the buzzwords, they mark the start of a new era for the Three Lions.

The World Cup kicks off today when hosts Russian Federation take on underdogs Saudi Arabia in Moscow.

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"And people have said I'm an intelligent footballer, so I have to learn off the other players that are intelligent and play in the same position as well". "Which probably tells you something about my ability as a player!"

Southgate also drew the sting from the only media storm to blight England's preparation when Raheem Sterling was criticised for a tattoo of a gun on his leg.

"My family are incredibly patriotic".

England doesn't boast of big names this time but there is a sense of bonhomie among the players and in Southgate they have a coach who understands them.

"To have played for England in major tournaments and now managing England is of course a huge honour".

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"No, I don't think it will leak out".

England's support staff are ready to provide the player a plane to get home as soon as he gets word of an impending birth and then jet him back to Russian Federation to rejoin the squad.

Expectations may be lower this time around but Gerrard believes Southgate's bold approach and decision-making will only benefit the squad.

"We only progress as a collective".

Southgate feels that the strong bonds, tightness in the group and the way in which they showed their mettle and kept going to the end of games in qualifying augurs well for their time in the World Cup spotlight. They're an in-form team.

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