Kieran Trippier believes England have earned a warm Wembley welcome when they host Spain on Saturday and is eager to land a big result to keep the feel good factor going.
The Three Lions’ run to the semi-finals of the World Cup united the nation this summer, restoring public affection after several tournaments that succeeded only in eroding the side’s status.
On Saturday, almost two months after their agonising exit to Croatia in Moscow, fans have the chance to show their appreciation at the opening fixture of the new Nations League competition.
“Somebody said it’s nearly sold out and that’s a good feeling, hopefully we get a good reception,” said Trippier, whose fine displays at right wing-back made him one of England’s breakout stars.
“I think we did well in Russia, so hopefully we can keep performing and put smiles on people’s faces.
“After the World Cup, the fans realised how much it means to the players here to represent England. We love coming here every opportunity that we get and we want our performances on the field to show how much it means to us.
“We were happy to put a smile on the nation’s face again but we have got another tough task ahead of us and hopefully we can make many more memories.”
For all England’s clear progress under Gareth Southgate, the feeling lingers that a major scalp is required to take the team to the next level.
There have been creditable draws with Germany, Brazil and Italy – as well as a 2-2 scoreline when the Spaniards last visited London – but they have found it difficult to put away elite opposition.
For Trippier, that leaves a clear target.
“We need to beat the very best and Spain are certainly one of the best,” he said.
“We want to play the likes of Spain to show that we are here and we are ready. It’ll be a tough test but we know the quality we have got in our dressing room and on our day we can beat anyone.”
Trippier has already transferred some of his World Cup form to Tottenham in the early weeks on the season, recreating his opening goal in the semi-final by lashing home a free-kick against Fulham.
Harry Kane, the golden boot winner in Russia, also scored in that game but questions marks linger over his heavy workload and potential for burnout.
Both Spurs and England rely increasingly heavily on the 25-year-old but Trippier is confident the striker can keep producing.
“I’m not concerned, he’s first in and last out (of training). He recovers well and everybody knows Harry’s a top professional,” said Trippier.
“I can’t see him slowing down, you’ve seen his work-rate in the games we’ve played this season. He’s as fit as anything.”
Last season’s injury issues cost the 30-year-old a place in the squad that reached the World Cup semi-finals over the summer.
Lallana was recalled for the upcoming UEFA Nations League clash with Spain and friendly against Switzerland, but the Liverpool attacking midfielder will have to wait to add to his 34 caps.
The Football Association confirmed in a short statement on Tuesday that the former Southampton man was withdrawn from England’s opening training session due to a groin complaint.
“Adam Lallana has returned to his club for further assessment of a groin strain,” it read.
“The Liverpool player was withdrawn from training earlier this afternoon and will play no part in England’s forthcoming fixtures against Spain and Switzerland.”
Southgate, who included Lallana on his standby list for the World Cup despite an injury-hit 2017-18 campaign, later expressed his dismay.
“He has just picked up a muscular injury,” he told Sky Sports.
“It was quite close to the beginning of training so it is the worst thing as far as we are concerned because you never want to send players back injured.
“Adam has had such a difficult run personally. He is a player we think so much of and I know Jurgen (Klopp, Liverpool boss) does.
“So at the moment he is having a really difficult run and you review what you might have been able to do differently but today was just really out of the blue.
“I am really disappointed for him because he has had such a tough year – missing so much football. Hopefully he will be back strong as quickly as possible.
Lallana’s injury setback is a blow for a player that had worked with the Three Lions throughout their World Cup preparation camp, only to watch the finals from afar.
The attacking midfielder is the second player to withdraw from Gareth Southgate’s squad after Manchester City’s Raheem Sterling pulled out on Monday evening with a back problem.
While no outfield replacement has been called up for either Lallana or Sterling, the surprise name of Fulham goalkeeper Marcus Bettinelli was drafted in.
The 26-year-old was part of the Under-21s set-up when Southgate was in charge, heading to the European Championships with them in 2015.
Bettinelli won just one cap for the Young Lions and started the last two Premier League matches for Slavisa Jokanovic’s promoted side, having failed to make the first two squads.
Jordan Pickford, Jack Butland and the uncapped Alex McCarthy trained with Southgate’s squad at St George’s Park on Tuesday, with the England boss explaining the maiden senior call-up for the former Chelsea youngster.
“All of our goalkeepers have been modified one way or another with their training,” he said.
“We felt it useful to bring another goalkeeper in for training. Marcus is another player we have worked with in the Under-21s in the past.
“We obviously have a situation in the Premier League at the moment where there aren’t many English goalkeepers playing.
“Marcus is very comfortable with the ball at his feet and fits that prototype of goalkeeper and there is no point in us calling up a senior goalkeeper who has worked with us in the past just for training. So it is a good opportunity for Marcus.”
Denmark’s preparations for their UEFA Nations League game opener against Wales are in turmoil after an extraordinary row over the players’ commercial rights.
The Danish football Association (DBU), fearing the prospect of a UEFA ban if they do not fulfil the fixture in Aarhus, have invited players from Superligaen and the first and second divisions in domestic football to play in Denmark’s two games, rather than stars like Tottenham midfielder Eriksen and Leicester goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel.
Former Arsenal midfielder John Jensen has been named as the Denmark manager for their Nations League opener against Wales, with regular manager Age Hareide told to stay at home.
The Danes have a friendly in Slovakia on Wednesday and it has been reported in Denmark that a 23-man squad will gather on Tuesday afternoon to fly to Bratislava.
"Dybt beklagelig situation. Både for holdet, for vores fans og for alle i dansk fodbold" https://t.co/k1zRjKdejl— Dansk Boldspil-Union (@DBUfodbold) 3 September 2018
But the Danish Player Association (Spillerforeningen) have urged the DBU to reconsider and told the governing body that the national squad is willing to play the two games under the terms of their old agreement.
“We have to solve this conflict now, not just digging the ditches deeper,” Tottenham star Eriksen said in a statement published on the Spillerforeningen website.
“So we’re happy to stretch our hand again, even though DBU put it away in the first try.
“Let’s renew the old deal by one month. Then we have organised relationships right now and we are prepared to play the international matches this week.
“And then we have time after the two international matches to negotiate the entire agreement in place. It does not make sense if DBU does not accept that offer.
“The agreement has been working for years and should only run one month longer. Sign up and we will sit on the plane immediately. We are ready and we will play.”
Denmark, who reached the last 16 of the World Cup in Russia this summer and are ninth in the FIFA rankings, have been beset by internal problems over the past 12 months.
The national women’s team boycotted a World Cup qualifier against Sweden in October 2017 in a dispute over employment conditions.
Sweden were awarded a 3-0 win and UEFA fined the DBU £18,000.
The DBU was also warned that Denmark would be barred from UEFA tournaments if it cancelled another match in the next four years.
So failing to play Wales on Sunday would almost certainly see Denmark expelled from the 2020 European Championship.
DBU chief executive Claus Bretton-Meyer said on Monday that the Wales game would go ahead, but he branded the dispute “regrettable” with the two parties holding 26 meetings on the issue in 2018.
Eriksen added: “We could all be home in our clubs who pay our wages – at home by our wives and children.
“There is only one reason why we are here – and it’s not money.
“We are here because we love to play for Denmark – and proud of the many millions we play for children and the breadth of Danish football, and the work we do for the whole of Danish football.
“For example, making up for DBUs events and for their sponsors, as we have always done.”
DBU elite manager Kim Hallberg said: “We must hold the two international matches to avoid millions of fines and possible exclusion of the national team for several years.
“On behalf of DBU and Danish football, I am pleased that John Faxe Jensen has taken the hard task of being coach in both matches.”