Football

Hoddle, Southgate praise front four

Kane, Sterling, Lingard and Alli lauded for their 'excellent movement'

Former England manager Glenn Hoddle lavished praise on the Three Lions' attacking display against Nigeria yesterday morning (Singapore time), with Dele Alli and Jesse Lingard excelling in midfield.

First-half goals from Gary Cahill and captain Harry Kane helped England to victory at Wembley Stadium in their penultimate warm-up match before taking on Tunisia, Panama and Belgium in Group G in Russia.

The Africans, who also head to Russia in less than a fortnight, pulled a goal back shortly after the break through Alex Iwobi but only fleetingly threatened the hosts for much of the game.

"The movement off the ball in the first half at Wembley was as good as we've seen for a long time," Hoddle wrote in his column for the Daily Mail.

"Dele Alli and Jesse Lingard were excellent. Harry Kane and Raheem Sterling were dropping deep at times, letting Alli and Lingard get forward. The rotation was excellent.

"Alli played really well and used the ball with one and two touches superbly, and the movement from him and Lingard was excellent.

"The blind runs they were making were exactly what you need, the rotation between the front four worked really well.

"We lost it with the substitutions in the second half, but Ruben Loftus-Cheek can make those runs as well, so we have options."

England manager Gareth Southgate also shared the same sentiment, saying his side's attacking performance was up there with the best of his time in charge of the national team.

"That was as good a half as we've had," Southgate said.

He praised, in particular, his attacking quartet who stretched a sloppy Nigeria for much of the first half which ended with England 2-0 ahead.

"We used the ball well and we were a threat. I liked the interchange of movement and passing between our front four," said Southgate, who represented England under Hoddle.

The pace of wing-backs Ashley Young and Kieran Trippier added more firepower to Southgate's side which has been slowly taking shape.

However, the England manager said that his side had failed to work out how the visitors had changed their approach at half-time, something that might cost them dearly if repeated in Russia, Reuters reported.

"That five-, six-minute spell is what we must learn from because that could be enough to put you out," he warned.

The 47-year-old said his team yesterday were close to England's likely starting XI when they open their World Cup campaign against Group G opponents Tunisia in Volgograd on June 18.

"I wouldn't necessarily say that team that started today are the team that start against Tunisia, but clearly it wouldn't be far away," Southgate said.

Nigeria coach Gernot Rohr said his side could have conceded half a dozen goals in a poor first-half performance which he said reflected a heavy travelling schedule for his players.

"What we saw in the second half was very positive, but we cannot play like we did in the first half, " the German said.

Meanwhile, Rohr named a final 23-man squad for the World Cup yesterday, with Chelsea defender Ola Aina and Mikel Agu from Porto placed on standby, AFP reported.

Leicester City midfielder Wilfred Ndidi, who has been a major injury concern, made the final cut.

Football