Football

Southgate wants his Three Lions to roar

England boss shares his ambition with the likes of Ward-Prowse, Defoe and Vardy, but not Rooney

England's ambition to become the best in the world was laid out in a powerful presentation by manager Gareth Southgate, but Wayne Rooney was not there to hear it.

Bowing out at the group stage of the last World Cup and then to Iceland (Round of 16) at Euro 2016 saw the Three Lions plummet to a low that the former defender is charged of dragging them up from.

Germany, their opponents tomorrow morning (Singapore time), are role models for the improvements required if England are to challenge for a major trophy - an ambition outlined by Southgate in a presentation at St George's Park on Monday.

The 46-year-old invited those in his thoughts, but not the squad to join the group.

Rooney was conspicuous by his absence as he stayed at Manchester United for injury treatment, missing a meeting in which new boy James Ward-Prowse revealed the lofty ambitions outlined.

"It was a very powerful message," the Southampton midfielder said, before confirming Rooney was not there.

"It is one that the Under-21s have received before, sort of highlighted about the highs and lows of a career and the ambitions that he sees for us.

"And, we want to establish ourselves as a top team.

"So it is all about plugging away at those goals and making sure that what we do now stands us in good stead for major tournaments."

Asked what the goal is, Ward-Prowse, 22, added: "Obviously, we want to be the best in the world. If you want to win major tournaments, then you've got to become that sort of team.

"In every department - the medical side of it, technical and tactical, the operations and the way things work - we all want to be the best and make sure we give ourselves a chance to succeed."

Jermain Defoe, in line to make his first international appearance since November 2013, echoed Ward-Prowse's sentiments, saying the presentation was a "really impressive" look at the bigger picture with the ultimate goal of becoming world champions.

The meeting touched on the highs and all too frequent lows for England, such as the excruciating exit to Iceland and Southgate's moment of despair.

His penalty failure saw England lose their Euro 96 semi-final to Germany - a raw moment that Jamie Vardy confirmed was part of the presentation.

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"The penalty was on there," the Leicester frontman said.

"He didn't go into much detail, but he wanted it there to show how far he has come as well.

"Obviously, him being in that situation to have his knowledge of that can benefit us quite a lot.

"It was great. We were looking forward to the World Cup and beyond, and what we want to achieve as a squad together.

"We just want to keep improving. There were highlights and clips from the past as well and when things have not gone right in the past and how we can use them to benefit us."

Ward-Prowse, who was England U-21 captain under Southgate, believes that this group's leadership qualities make up for the lack of experience as they move away from the notion of a permanent England captain.

"From my experience in the U-21s, we had a mini-leadership group within the team," Ward-Prowse said.

"The idea was not only to have one captain but also four, five, six main leaders within a team. Looking around at our squad, we have definitely got that and more.

"In high-pressure moments, it's about those leaders on the pitch taking responsibility and that's something that he will try to implement as his time increases with the squad."

- PA SPORT

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