Henderson hopeful on fitness for World Cup semi-final

Croatia players celebrate winning the penalty shoot out during the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia Quarter Final match between Russia and Croatia

Croatia players celebrate winning the penalty shoot out during the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia Quarter Final match between Russia and Croatia

After making history with England's first-ever penalty-shootout win at a World Cup against Colombia, the Three Lions did what many of their predecessors would have failed to do-get through a quarter-final against a team of Sweden's calibre in relative comfort.

While England enjoyed a relatively stress-free 2-0 win over Sweden in the last eight, Croatia had to come through a gruelling extra time against hosts Russian Federation and then a penalty shootout.

He is now trying to minimise potential distractions as his young team prepare to take the next step in their bid to repeat the 1966 World Cup triumph at home. "Our preparation for the game has been identical". I say that because of the front three - Hazard, De Bruyne and Lukaku - which I think is better than France's front three - Griezmann, Mbappe and Giroud.

"You don't have to change things, you don't have to do things differently".

"As a player if you can perform at your regular level in these games then very often that's more than enough because people can be inhibited in big matches". The two teams last faced each other in World Cup qualifying in 2009, and both matches in that group went decisively to England - but that was almost a decade ago.

Fun and light-heartedness has been a running thread throughout England's World Cup campaign, which sees them face their first semi-final since 1990 at the Luzhniki Stadium.

"I just hope we can use this experience to keep going, keep improving and win some trophies along the way".




Gareth Southgate has created an exciting young squad, built upon an attractive style of play and a fearless attitude rarely seen from English sides in worldwide football.

In Luka Modric and Ivan Rakitic, Croatia boast two of the finest midfielders in world football, a fact not lost on fellow schemer Henderson.

With an average squad age of just over 26 and fewer combined caps than any other participating team, Southgate knows there is still plenty of room for improvement. "We'll just have to assess the bodies", said Southgate.

'We have every player available so that is huge credit to our players for the way they've committed to the physical programmes we've done, ' he told the media on the eve of the match.

"So we're excited about the future but we also want to make the most of the opportunity we have tomorrow".

Kane is England's most fouled play by far with an average of 3.8 offences being committed against him per-game.

Croatia defender Dejan Lovren is eager to prove a point when he comes up against England forward Harry Kane in the World Cup semi-finals. "They have a lot of youngsters, but they are really good, fast, they play for great clubs".

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