BRYAN ROBSON: England must dominate erratic Senegal from the start and fresh legs from the bench will be crucial… and here’s why revitalised Marcus Rashford makes my team for the World Cup last-16 clash
England need to rush Senegal from the start on Sunday night. Press from the top, quicken the tempo and frighten them into mistakes.
Senegal are a good, strong, athletic side but they can also be rash and erratic. If we force errors early on we can set the tone for the contest and make them nervous every time we attack.
We need to have the mindset to do that all game, however. It’s not enough to do it just for the first 10 minutes, we have to maintain an intensity throughout and that’s where the quality of our bench can come to the fore.
I expect both Jude Bellingham and Jordan Henderson to start for England against Senegal
I’m sure Gareth Southgate will want to keep the side compact so I would expect him to keep the same midfield as against Wales, except this time I’d keep Jordan Henderson and Declan Rice deep and push Jude Bellingham into the pocket behind Harry Kane.
I would say this of course but midfield is always the crucial battleground. To put it simply, don’t give anything away, win possession, get hold of the ball, then you control the game.
Senegal have experienced players there such as Leicester’s Nampalys Mendy but we have seen in the Premier League that he can struggle when put under pressure.
So it’s up to our guys to put their markers down early and get the game by the scruff of the neck. If we gain that stranglehold it’s then down to Gareth to recognise the right moments to use his bench to maintain the energy level.
England should impose themselves on Senegal early to seize control of the last-16 tie
England manager Gareth Southgate has a wealth of attacking talent to call on an must utilise it
I’ve said from the outset that we have a really strong squad, especially with our attacking options, and those players coming off the bench will be crucial to making a telling impact on the game.
Marcus Rashford has to start for me as he’s a striker now brimming with confidence after his goals against Wales and Iran.
Even the first chance he missed against Wales, when Danny Ward saved after he had been put through by Harry Kane, you could sense he was in that groove of a player who believes in himself again.
I’ve watched Marcus for some time growing up at Manchester United. He lost his way in recent years, and has admitted as much, but he wasn’t the only one and has never shied away from wanting to work or run for the cause. Now he is looking like his old self.
Marcus Rashford is brimming with confidence after scoring three times in Qatar
Scoring in a World Cup gives you incredible belief that you can compete against anyone, he will want Gareth to back him now with a starting place and I’d back him to deliver.
His pace not only frightens defences, it helps distract attention away from Kane too.
The luxury for Gareth is that he has the likes of Raheem Sterling, Bukayo Saka or Jack Grealish to turn to if it’s not going to plan. Any of those is more than capable of producing a brilliant 30 minute cameo especially if Senegal’s defensive concentration has been thoroughly taxed beforehand.
Knockout stages in a World Cup environment can play on your mentality but if I was captain in that dressing room today I’d be telling them ‘go out and enjoy yourselves, realise how lucky you are’.
You have to embrace the challenge don’t worry over it.
Keep your messages simple: don’t be lazy in defence, take no chances and, if you see a chance to go forward, don’t wait and sit to be safe, take it as you may not get it again. Look your mates in the eye, trust them to have your back and don’t be afraid. We can win this.