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Allardyce: Lack of pressure on England will help them succeed

Former England manager Sam Allardyce is hopeful that the lack of expectation being placed on the Three Lions will benefit their chances of progression at the World Cup.

Gareth Southgate's side kick-off their campaign against Tunisia at the Volgograd Arena on Monday as they look to improve on recent tournament disappointments.

England failed to make it past the group stages at the 2014 World Cup before being embarrassed by minnows Iceland in the last-16 of Euro 2016 in France.

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Sam Allardyce William Hill

As such, Southgate's squad has faced less scrutiny than previous iterations, with many England supporters believing a run to the quarter-finals would be an achievement given the lack of experienced stars available to the 1966 winners.

But Allardyce, who played his part in England qualifying for the tournament, having taken charge of their 1-0 win over Slovakia before being sacked in controversial circumstances, believes the lack of pressure will enable the likes of Dele Alli and Raheem Sterling to dominate matches as they do for their clubs.

"It doesn't appear to be quite as volatile and as pressurised as previous tournaments, which is hopefully a good thing," Allardyce told  Goal  at the launch of the William Hill Arms Pub.

"The emergence of some of these younger players is very encouraging. He's [Southgate] not gone too overboard with that and there are still some experienced players who have gone to other international tournaments.

"The young players shouldn't have that pressure and hopefully will be free to express themselevs and play their best. The level of football that they have played at has been exceptionally good."

England have only won their opening match in a major tournament once since they last met Tunisia in their first game of the 1998 World Cup as goals from Alan Shearer and Paul Scholes secured a 2-0 win for Glenn Hoddle's side.

As such Allardyce is under no illusions as to the importance of getting off to a winning start, particularly with many of the favourites for the competition having slipped up in their own opening matches in Russia.

"The most important game isn't Panama or Belgium. They have to do everything they possibly can to beat Tunisia. That win and that three points would relieve a huge amount of pressure on everybody," he added.

"Then they can look to Panama, who everyone is saying are the weakest team in the group, and be totally professional in that game to try and win it. Then when we get to Belgium there shouldn't be as much pressure. Obviously they would like to win but there isn't the pressure of whether we need points to get through to the next stages."

Southgate is set to hand starts to Harry Maguire and Ashley Young on Monday evening, with Belgium playing Panama in the other Group G match earlier on Monday in Sochi.

Sam Allardyce was speaking at the William Hill Arms, the pub which will offer fans the ultimate England watching experience including expert analysis, plus free food and drink. For your chance to win exclusive access to England’s group games with Emile Heskey and Sam Allardyce at the pub, head to William Hill's  Twitter  or  Facebook  pages. England are 16/1 with William Hill to win the World Cup. #ThisIsMore #itscominghome