Harry Maguire has backed Gareth Southgate’s “brave” decision to rotate England’s squad for their final World Cup group game against Belgium.
Southgate made eight changes to his starting XI for their final Group G match as they lost 1-0 to Belgium, leaving the competition’s leading scorer and his captain Harry Kane on the bench.
The England boss’ selection was met with a mixed response – some arguing it takes away from the team’s momentum, others pointing to the fact they now have an easier route to the final on paper, with key players rested.
1:33 Gary Neville believes England should be optimistic about their World Cup chances and is bemused by the criticism levelled at Gareth Southgate for resting key players against Belgium.
“He’s a brave manager and he makes big decisions in big times,” the Leicester defender said.
“You can say he is brave but so is (Belgium manager) Roberto Martinez: he also made a number of changes (9) I think they were both probably looking at the bigger picture and know that the next game is the biggest one of them all.
“Gareth is a man of great knowledge. He fills you with confidence no matter what decision is made. We all trust him as a group and hopefully it’s the right decision in the long run. It’s only a good decision if we go and put in a performance in the next game and qualify for the quarter-finals.”
0:39 Celtic manager Brendan Rodgers backs Gareth Southgate and says the England manager and his staff are doing a great job.
England face Colombia in the last-16 on Tuesday after finishing second in Group G and Gary Cahill is familiar with their opponents’ main goal threat and captain Radamel Falcao, having played with him at Chelsea.
“Falcao had a difficult time in England clearly, but outside of England he’s a very high-profile player,” said Cahill of a player who has struck 51 times for Monaco in the past two campaigns.
“He’s scored many, many goals. He did have a difficult time in England, showed his character when he went to find his form again and now he’s a huge player for them.
“I’m sure a huge amount was probably confidence. He had that spell at Manchester United, then he had that spell at us, he was short of sharpness at both of them.
“I suppose in his eyes, the rest is history, he’s refound his form now.
“He’s tricky in the box, he likes to come off the shoulder a little bit, and he’s a good finisher.
“When he gets half a chance, we saw that in training he’s a decent finisher. Everyone knows him, everyone’s aware of him, his ability.”