London (AFP) – England coach Gareth Southgate insists he will not accept burnout as an excuse should the country suffer a familiar World Cup flop in Russia next year.
England are on the brink of wrapping up their place at the 2018 finals and face Slovenia on Thursday and Lithuania on October 8 in their concluding Group F qualifiers.
Former England bosses Fabio Capello and Sven-Goran Eriksson both blamed fatigue for previous tournament failures but Southgate will have no sympathy for such arguments this time around.
“I played in tournaments, I played seasons that involved 45 or 50 games, I’m not a huge believer in burnout,” said 47-year-old Southgate who appeared 57 times for England as a central defender during his playing career from 1995-2004.
“I think there’s mental fatigue, but physically it’s about getting the right level of training, the appropriate stimulus to make sure people are ready.”
Key to England’s hopes in Russia, should they qualify, will be Tottenham’s prolific striker Harry Kane who hit 13 goals in all competitions in September.
However, at Euro 2016, where England were humiliated by Iceland in the last-16, Kane struggled after a long season with Tottenham.
“We should have enough expertise to get to the best possible level. That requires all the players to be looking after themselves right. Somebody like Harry will do that,” said Southgate.
“He’ll do whatever it takes to give himself the best chance, he’s meticulous about his diet, meticulous about the way he recovers from games.
“Tottenham signing (Fernando) Llorente might help that. The other night they were able to take Harry off with 20 minutes to go. Those latter stages of games are the ones that have a real physical impact.
“There needs to be some mental switch off at the end of the season but the danger there is that you tail off too much and then can’t get back.”
Kane has 10 goals in 21 appearances for his country but Southgate insisted there will not be an over-reliance on him despite the team being without five-goal Jamie Vardy.
“I never go into games thinking ‘I’m not sure where our goals are going to come from’,” said the England boss.
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