Southgate warns England 'won't be Spain' in time for 2018 World Cup

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The Three Lions boss is hoping to see improvement from his side by the time next summer's showpiece arrives, but has sought to temper expectations

Gareth Southgate has led England to the 2018 World Cup, but warned that they will not be as good as Spain by the time they head to Russia.

The Three Lions booked their ticket to next summer’s showpiece with an uninspiring 1-0 victory over Slovenia.

England 18/1 to win World Cup

Southgate’s side are now guaranteed to top their group, while stretching an unbeaten run in qualification contests which dates back to 2009 to 38 games.

Expectation is always high around the England camp once they arrive at major tournaments, but there has been criticism of the current squad on the back of a forgettable showing at Euro 2016.

Southgate is hoping to have them better prepared for the next challenge, but has conceded that they are not yet at the same level as the very best in the world.

He told reporters after seeing Harry Kane snatch a dramatic winner against Slovenia: “It depends on where you would like to be and what is realistic about how quickly you can improve.

Gareth Southgate England not Spain

“What we want to do is maximise the abilities that we have and the capabilities that we have.

“Are we going to become Spain in the next eight months? No we’re not, but respectfully they have got a squad full of players that have won league titles and won Champions Leagues.

“We keep talking about world class players and until you are able to really perform and prove yourself on that stage then you can’t consider yourself in that company, but, our lads now have the chance to play on that stage again.”

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England will wrap up their qualification campaign with a trip to Lithuania on Sunday.

They will then return to international action in November, with the next round of fixtures set to offer a greater examination of their credentials and offer an indicator as to any progress being made.

World Cup holders Germany will visit Wembley on November 10, before Southgate’s side then play host to in-form Brazil four days later.

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