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‘I can see us getting to the semi-finals’ – Osman backs Three Lions to shine in Russia

PUBLISHED: 06:00 14 June 2018

England striker Harry Kane (left) with manager Gareth Southgate during a training session in Russia yesterday. Photo: PA

England striker Harry Kane (left) with manager Gareth Southgate during a training session in Russia yesterday. Photo: PA

PA Wire

Ipswich Town legend and former England international Russell Osman has backed the Three Lions to make the semi-finals of the World Cup.

The tournament kicks off this afternoon when hosts Russia take on Saudi Arabia in Moscow (4pm).

England’s opener is against Tunisia on Monday (7pm) with games to follow against Panama (Sunday, June 24, 1pm) and Belgium (Thursday, June 29, 7pm).

Progress from Group G would see Gareth Southgate’s men face someone from Group H in the first knockout round – either Poland, Colombia, Senegal or Japan.

“Getting out of the group shouldn’t be a problem,” said Osman, who was capped 11 times by his country. “And if they can finish top – which will be tough with Belgium being in there – that will make life a little bit easier.

“From there it is a case of taking one game at a time. You need discipline and no key injuries, because it’s vital to have your best players on the pitch.

“For me, once the action gets under way, it’s not so much about the manager and the side he picks and the formation. It’s more about the players and who turns up on any given day. Some will play to their full potential, some won’t. We’ve just got to hope more do than don’t because in the past that’s obviously not happened in tournaments.

“This time it could be different because you sense there isn’t the same weight of expectation on them.

“I think Gareth Southgate has done a great job. Roy Hodgson was a bit dour and the football the team played was a bit dour too. Gareth has got that little bit more about him. He seems to have taken the fear factor out of the air and got the players expressing themselves and their own personalities.

“Have we got enough world class players? That’s debatable. Harry Kane certainly needs to be firing.

“I think we’ll get to the quarter-finals at least and I can actually see us getting to the semi-finals. Building momentum and confidence is vital and I think starting with games against Tunisia and Panama could enable that.”

Osman, who played 70 games for club and country the season Town’s won the UEFA Cup (1980/81), will be alongside another former Blues favourite, Simon Milton, to provide live punditry for all of England’s group games at Gresham Sports and Social Club on Tuddenham Road. Tickets to watch the games there on a giant screen are available for £10 and include a pint and burger/hot dog.

Ipswich Town assistant manager Chris Doig insists Blues captain Luke Chambers will not be given an easy ride when the old friends reunite ahead of a new era at Portman Road.

New Ipswich Town boss Paul Hurst says he won’t be making a glut of early signings.

It may be early in the summer transfer window, but business has already started. Stuart Watson looks at the deals done by Championship clubs so far.

Former Ipswich and Bury Town goalkeeper Nick Pope is closing in on an £18million move to Liverpool, according to reports.

New Ipswich Town manager Paul Hurst says he wants his team to play ‘no regrets’ football.

There was brisk bidding for Sir Alf Ramsey memorabilia at Clarke & Simpson’s retro auction today.

Former Ipswich Town stalwart Micky Stockwell says England’s players must cope with the weight of expectation heading into their World Cup opener against Tunisia tonight (7pm ko).

Paul Hurst officially begins work as Ipswich Town’s new manager today. Stuart Watson takes a look at the matters which he’ll find most pressing.

Chris Doig followed Paul Hurst to Ipswich Town from Shrewsbury Town. ANDY WARREN spoke to the Blues’ new assistant boss about the move and his own ambitions.

Former Ipswich Town striker Alex Mathie hopes to see new boss Paul Hurst take knockout football seriously this coming season.

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