Young England squad 'excited' ahead of World Cup, says Marcus Rashford

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Marcus Rashford's place in England's World Cup squad is more or less guaranteed.

Marcus Rashford has described the England camp as a “massive bundle of excitement” ahead of the World Cup.

The finals in Russia are coming into sharper focus as club matters conclude, with the Three Lions’ Group G opener against Tunisia in Volgograd now just 68 days away.

Rashford is all but certain to be in the squad announced by Gareth Southgate in mid-May and the Manchester United forward cannot wait to represent his country in a World Cup for the first time.

“The England squad’s quite young, so there’s just a massive bundle of excitement buzzing around,” he said.

“Everyone’s excited to just go there and do as best as we can.

“(Gareth Southgate has) brought a massive amount of freedom, especially to the forward players, but it’s within a structure.

“So, we have a baseline and we know what we’re doing.

“We know what our individual roles are, and we still need to learn and develop that.

“But yeah, it’s enjoyable playing under him and we just hope for the most success possible, in the World Cup.”

Rashford claims not to have yet dreamt about reaching the Luzhniki finale, but the forward does have silverware in his mind as United’s season ends.

The Red Devils have a Wembley semi-final against Tottenham to look forward to next weekend and the 20-year-old is determined to go on to win the competition, as well as sealing second spot in the Premier League.

“I think our main focus now is finishing second in the league,” Rashford told Inside United. “That’s important for us and winning the FA Cup.

“If those two things happen, then we’ve took what we can out of the season at this point.
“They’re the most important things.”

Success on a collective and individual basis is Rashford’s focus right now.

Nobody has made more appearances for United since Mourinho’s appointment, but reports suggest the forward is unhappy at the lack of Premier League minutes he has been getting.

Rashford, who has made 97 appearances as either starter of substitute under the Portuguese, appears to be looking at the bigger picture.

“I wasn’t aware of (the statistic that I played most for Mourinho) before I saw it and it’s something to be proud of,” he said.

“But we always want more, and we always want to show progression individually and as a team, so the numbers don’t really matter as much as the results do to me.”

Provided by PA Sport

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Russia to spend big on stadiums after 2018 World Cup

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Russia intends to spend more than €162 million to make sure stadiums built for the World Cup do not go to waste after the showpiece ends.

The hosts are trying to use the football final to revive fan interest in the struggling domestic leagues.

Each of the 11 host cities is either getting a brand new arena or having an existing one refurbished from the ground up.

The idea is to replace cavernous all-purpose stadiums in which supporters are exposed to the sun and snow with modern ones outfitted with the latest amenities.

Vladimir Putin issued an order last October requiring his government to draft a World Cup “legacy” programme that raises club-match attendance and boosts youth player development.

But the question long facing Russia has been how to reap rewards from the massive investment in cities where local clubs play second-tier football.

The cabinet’s proposal reported by state media on Tuesday admits that the government will have to foot the bill in some places until 2023.

“Keeping in mind the high cost of stadium operations and the low expected football club revenues, it is impossible to expect stadium use to be commercially viable in the next 3-5 years,” the government programme says.

The RIA Novosti state news agency said the government wants to assign 16.6 billion rubles ($265 million) to the legacy programme.

Most of that money – $190 million – will come from the federal budget and be assigned to keeping stadiums open in seven of the smaller host cities.

Some of the money will also be spent on training facilities and youth football centres.

Russia admits that it will not turn a profit as host.

But it views the international football extravaganza as a chance to make a long-term investment in a game that has struggled since Soviet times.

It also dearly wants to avoid getting stuck with white elephants, stadiums built for major events that turn into abandoned symbols of mismanagement and excess.

The problem has most recently attracted attention after the 2014 World Cup and 2016 Summer Olympic Games in Brazil.

Provided by AFP Sport

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World Cup 2018: Russia coach Stanislav Cherchesov dreams big before home tournament

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Russia coach Stanislav Cherchesov

Russia’s World Cup coach Stanislav Cherchesov believes the hosts just have to relax and be themselves if they want to win before expectant fans and Vladimir Putin.

The pressure will be on Russia to perform when they open football’s premiere against Saudi Arabia in Moscow on June 14.

Putin has already said he was hoping to see the team lift a seemingly unlikely trophy on home ground. The Russian leader is expected to be in attendance when the first World Cup to reach eastern Europe kicks off.

Cherchesov said on Tuesday that he and his squad also only had victory on their mind.

“We know that we are not the favourites, but this does not mean anything,” he said in a Russian television interview.

“We want to be ourselves and then see whether that will be enough, how far that takes us.”

The Russia coach said players felt dejected after losing to Mexico in the semi-final of last year’s Confederations Cup — a World Cup warmup held in Saint Petersburg and Moscow.

“I have never seen such disappointed football players before,” Cherchesov said of the locker room after the Mexico match.

“We wanted to win the Confederations Cup from the start in order to know the taste of victory.”

Russia are coming off a miserable Euro 2016 in which they were knocked out in the group stage after losing to Wales 3-0 in their third and final game.

Former national squad coach Leonid Slutsky confessed shortly afterwards that he and the players agreed things could not get much worse.

“We all said in one voice: ‘We are s**t’,” Slutsky said.

Cherchesov was asked whether he discussed that game and conversation when he took over the Russia job from Slutsky immediately after the tournament.

“Should the national team players been told that they are ‘s**t’? No,” Cherchesov said.

“To be honest, I do not even know what to say about that. We never had such a conversation.”

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