England's Jordan Pickford: 'Our mentality is to win' vs. Belgium

Harry Kane

Harry Kane

Even though England have won just two knock-out matches at the World Cup since their run to the semi-finals in the 1990 World Cup, O'Neill told ITV Sport that they could be a dark horse to enjoy a long run in this year's competition. They were close to the wire against Sweden and they have not been able to break Korea down.

England defeated Tunisia with a last-gasp Harry Kane goal and thrashed Panama 6-1 in their second game, as both themselves and Belgium guaranteed progress to the knockout stage with a game to spare.

There weren't high expectations around Gareth Southgate's team but they are on a high and the fans / banter merchants are loving it.

"I ask that we go step by step and I see the people in Belgium are very proud of this team, they should be, we have been doing well", he added.

"We don't like losing, we don't like to lose matches, but the primary objectives for me we got and I understand that and I think the supporters in the stadium understood that as well".

The left footed forward was forced out with an ankle injury in the 5-2 victory over Tunisia and, although coach Roberto Martinez said the forward is recovering well, he seems set to sit out on Thursday with qualification for the knockout stages already secured.

"As a goalkeeper in training, when you're getting the likes of Harry, [Jamie Vardy], [Danny Welbeck] and Marcus [Rashford] having shots against you, it's hard", Pickford said.

Martínez has taken the view that this is a time to rest elite players such as Kevin De Bruyne and Romelu Lukaku, whereas Southgate has already made it clear he will make changes, with Eric Dier, Gary Cahill, Phil Jones and Trent Alexander-Arnold all likely to be involved for the first time in the tournament. "We do not have to risk him but if he is ready we will put him in".

They will face the first-placed team from Senegal's group, before battling the victor of Sweden against Switzerland in the quarter-final.

England and Belgium will meet in a World Cup match that neither team wants to win.

"Our mentality is to win every game we play in - we can't be looking into that", Pickford said at a news conference.

"I am trying to develop a winning mentality".

'He's misled us over the last two days and I like that.

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