With the Group G opener against Tunisia looming large, the Three Lions followed up Saturday’s 2-1 win against Nigeria with a comfortable victory against Costa Rica in their final warm-up friendly.
Marcus Rashford sent a sold-out Elland Road wild with an outstanding opener that substitute Danny Welbeck added to in a victory more comfortable than the 2-0 scoreline suggested.
“Football’s coming home” chanted fans throughout a largely encouraging display from Southgate’s young squad, who have a brief break before meeting up and heading to Russia on Tuesday.
“I was really pleased with tonight,” the England manager said, having won again without injury concerns.
“Most pleasing was to make 10 changes and still maintain the fluidity and fluency of the game.
“A little bit different in that obviously (there was) a slightly different profile of players, so maybe we didn’t get as many men in the box at times.
“Defensive side of the game (was) good, a couple of lapses of concentration. Movement of the ball was good, players taking up good positions and we looked a threat. We had energy, pressed really well.
“The first goal was a wonderful, wonderful strike and we’ve got real competition for places.
“So, if I look at the three weeks we’ve had, I couldn’t be happier with the preparation: physically, tactically and in the togetherness of the group.
“We’ve already been through a little bit of adversity together in certain areas, and I think that’s brought them close.”
Southgate pinpointed the scrutiny and criticism of Raheem Sterling’s gun tattoo, as well as the openness in which Danny Rose spoke about his fight with depression.
“Some of the individual situations like Danny and Raheem’s have come up and have allowed us to talk about different things and support each other,” the Three Lions boss said.
“This is a really together group.
“It’s one of the things that the three boys that have been on standby have talked about when I spent time with them today, and that’s not to be underestimated because I think that gives us a real strength going into Russia.”
Southgate was speaking for the first time since Rose’s interview about his battle with mental health issues, with the left-back getting a fine reception as he returned to Leeds.
“Firstly, incredibly brave and honest,” the England manager said. “As a team, we are hugely supportive of what he’s done.
“I think it’s been a relief for him to speak about it, having talked to him today.
“But most importantly from his point of view, he wants to put it now behind him.
“It’s something he feels he has come through and he was really keen that the focus turns to his football, so it was brilliant for him to have a game, coming back to Leeds, special for him.
“And in the first half in particular, it was as well as I have seen him play for quite a long time, so we know his quality.
“The big challenge for Danny is that he has had a lack of match minutes this season, but he’s starting to get there and that’s brilliant for all of us.”
Sports data company Gracenote has named Brazil as favourites for this summer’s World Cup, with a 21 per cent chance of winning.
Reigning champions Germany and the team they beat in the 2014 final, Argentina, were both given an 8 per cent chance of winning. France, came in fifth on Gracenote’s list.
Gracenote’s top five, based on one million simulations of the tournament run by the company, largely matches up with experts’ predictions of the favourites to win the Jules Rimet trophy.
The big surprise in the top 10 is Peru, coming in at seventh, behind Colombia and ahead of England, who themselves are a surprise eighth ahead of perennial dark horses Belgium and Euro 2016 champions Portugal.
The 25-year-old is set to leave Shakhtar Donetsk for Old Trafford after the Premier League club announced they had agreed a fee to recruit the midfielder.
He has been included in Tite’s World Cup squad but was forced out of a session at Tottenham‘s Enfield training base, with ice applied to his right ankle.
Brazil start their bid to win an unprecedented sixth World Cup when they take on Group E rivals Switzerland on June 17 – with a final warm-up game coming against Austria in Vienna on Sunday.
Fred suffered the knock before trying to carry on with the training session, only to then require treatment on the sidelines.
Team doctor Rodrigo Lasmar said: “Today Fred had trauma in his ankle but it is too early to say anything about it.
“Tomorrow we watch to see what happens and then decide if we need to do any exams or not but at the moment it is too early to say anything about him.”
Brazil have been using Tottenham’s training ground as their base ahead of flying out to Russia – via their stop-off in Austria – and Real Madrid defender Marcelo also spoke to the press on Thursday afternoon.
He hopes Fred’s injury is nothing serious and that he will be back amongst the squad sooner rather than later.
“This is the World Cup, everyone is training hard and working hard,” said Marcelo.
“I believe that it is not that bad, it is not a big issue and he will be back with us as soon as possible.”
After their group opener against the Swiss, Brazil take on Costa Rica in St Petersburg before travelling to Russian capital Moscow to face Serbia.