Gary Neville says the World Cup is the ultimate test of a footballer but hopes England's 3-5-2 formation can help them improve on recent efforts.
Gary Neville is confident England will win their opening World Cup group game against Tunisia on Monday, but does not think it will be easy.
Gareth Southgate’s side will get their 2018 campaign underway in Volgograd next week, with Group G games against Panama and Belgium to follow.
While Neville – who coached England at the 2014 World Cup – says Tunisia will not be pushovers, he does expect the Three Lions to win and wants to see progress from the last two tournaments.
“I think three at the back is a wise move; I don’t think there is a comfortable back four there. This provides a bit more protection and allows some of the more talented players to move forward from that solid base,” he told Sky Sports News.
“There are a couple of decisions to make but the main thing is that we start in a solid manner, particularly those playing in the tournament for the first time. You want to play well, get through that first game having not made a mistake.
“I’ve been to three World Cups and it’s the ultimate test – of your concentration, your focus, your ability to deliver under big pressure. We haven’t always done that – and I’ve been part of that problem – but the teams that win the World Cup are the most resilient and the ones who can stand the test of time.
“I don’t think you can talk about England winning the tournament because that would be unrealistic but what I think you can hope to see is growth from the previous two tournaments.
“The expectation has to be there to win the first game and we should win – but that doesn’t mean it will be easy.
“You’d hope Tunisia might be as disorganised as Saudi Arabia but they won’t be. It might be 30 degrees on Monday – that’s a factor. I was part of a squad that played against Tunisia in ’98 – as was Gareth – in a very hot Marseille.
“But it’s about being professional, delivering, taking your chances. I’m confident England will win.”