Prince William reiterated the importance of “ignoring all the talk” to the England squad during a visit to their World Cup training camp, manager Gareth Southgate has revealed.
Southgate’s side began their campaign in Qatar in style, beating Iran 6-2 to go top of Group B ahead of Saturday’s clash with the USA, who drew with Wales 1-1 in their opener.
There has been a lot of off-field debate around the England team after the controversial abandonment of the ‘One Love’ campaign ahead of their first match.
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But Southgate praised Prince William for delivering the perfect message to his players during a visit this week.
"We really like our base camp. We don't have the TV on much, but I am sure the lads are following stuff on social media and the internet,” Southgate told a media conference.
“We talk about the importance of ignoring all the talk. The future king (Prince William) came in and mentioned that to the lads.
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“We could not have paid him to give the lads a better message and I am really grateful for that. You have got to ignore the noise.
“In tournaments there is always a need for information, but I have lived through a lot of tournament football now.
“It is important to stay calm and focus on things you can affect. Keeping your energy for those is key."
Debate around the ‘One Love’ campaign has raged on this week and Germany, one of the seven countries who originally planned to wear the armband before FIFA threatened to book captains, made a gesture of protest before their opener against Japan on Wednesday.
But Southgate batted away the suggestion that England could follow in the Germans’ example.
“We have spoken about these topics for a year. There is a risk that everybody tries to escalate it,” he said.
“Do we have to make a better video than Australia or a better gesture than Germany?
“If we are rushing to do something, we can make an error which doesn't land well. For the players and myself, we have to be focusing on the games.
“The FA are taking is seriously and we are not ducking any questions. We want to raise awareness and are supportive of our LGBTQ fanbase and some may feel disappointed about the armband not being worn and we will be criticised for that. But we have to accept the criticism and move on.”
Kane fitness update
The fitness of captain Harry Kane was a concern this week, after he picked up an ankle knock against Iran, but Southgate is relaxed about the striker’s condition and suggested he will start.
"Harry Kane is good. He came through tests with no problems. It would be a brave decision to leave him out of the starting team,” Southgate said.
"All teams have the same recovery period. It is a little shorter than in previous tournaments. Only will only benefit us if we get through the group stages, where we might have a longer period to recover as you get through the competition."
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