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Southgate hails ‘exceptional’ Mount after Albania win

London (AFP) – England manager Gareth Southgate says it has taken Thomas Tuchel’s arrival at Chelsea to persuade many fans that Mason Mount is an “exceptional player.”

Mount produced an impressive goalscoring performance in England’s 2-0 win against Albania in Sunday’s World Cup qualifier in Tirana.

The midfielder is the first Chelsea player to score or assist in three consecutive England appearances since Frank Lampard, who did so in seven games in a row in a run ending in 2013.

Southgate said he had long been trumpeting the 22-year-old Chelsea player despite previous criticism from supporters.

Mount’s second-half strike, which came after a first-half header for Harry Kane, gave England six points from a possible six ahead of Wednesday’s home qualifier against Poland, likely to prove their toughest opponents in the group.

“Mason Mount is an exceptional player,” said Southgate. “But I was saying this in the autumn.

“I suppose now (Chelsea manager) Thomas Tuchel picks him probably everybody will agree. When it was Frank (Lampard, whom Tuchel replaced at Stamford Bridge) it didn’t count for some reason but he’s an exceptional player.

“He finds space intelligently, he manipulates the ball very well, he creates chances, he can score goals. I thought his performance was excellent.”

Southgate said even though Mount had played twice for England in the space of four days during a relentless campaign for his club, he would be prepared to start him at Wembley.

“I think we’ve looked out for all of the players in the first game and his load coming into the camp was that he didn’t play in the midweek in the Champions League,” he said.

“But regardless of that, we’re trying to win and qualify for a World Cup.”

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