England vs Croatia: Jordan Pickford calls on team-mates to consign World Cup defeat to 'history'

England meet Croatia again in the Nations League on Sunday at Wembley

Mark Critchley
Northern Football Correspondent
@mjcritchley
Friday 16 November 2018 18:45
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Jordan Pickford has called on England to consign their World Cup elimination at the hands of Croatia to “history” by beating the same opponents at Wembley on Sunday.

Gareth Southgate’s side meet Croatia again in the Nations League, with the winner guaranteed a place in the finals of the newly-established competition.

However, a score draw or defeat would relegate England to League B, the second tier of Uefa’s newly-formed competition.

The meeting with Croatia carries added intrigue after Zlatko Dalic’s side ended England’s hopes of reaching a first World Cup final since 1966 only four months ago.

Sunday will be the second meeting of the two nations since July, following last month’s 0-0 draw in Rijeka, played out in front of an empty stadium following a ban on supporters.

Pickford, one of the stand-out players of England’s run to the last four in Russia, stopped short of saying that England are out for revenge following their extra-time defeat in Moscow.

The Everton goalkeeper claimed that victory on Sunday would help consign memories of defeat in Moscow to the past.

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“We know we got the draw against them away when there were no fans, so that was a different atmosphere, but I think the crowd will be rooting for us on Sunday and it’ll be a good game,” he said after Thursday’s 3-0 friendly win over the United States at Wembley.

“If we win the game, we go through and the rest is history.”

Pickford also believes England are ready to cope with the pressure of another ‘do or die’ encounter with Croatia, even though it is just four months since their World Cup disappointment.

“I think there will be that bit more added pressure but I think that’s what we’re capable of dealing with,” he said.

“We’ve got the ability in the side, we’ve got three new lads making their full debuts tonight and Alex [McCarthy, England’s third-choice goalkeeper] made his debut.

“They’re a top 10 side in the world so every game’s never going to be easy. We’ll do our research and we’ll work hard on the training pitch to get the tactics right. Hopefully the ability shines and we get the win.

Pickford added that he and his team-mates are targeting success in the Nations League in order to maintain the momentum built up over the last year.

“It’s another stepping stone in the right direction as a group of lads for England,” he said.

“We have to get the win first, that’s the main thing, but then instead of playing two qualifiers in the summer we have the chance to play a semi-final and a final if we overcome and can get the win against Croatia on Sunday.”

“It’s a great game for us to be playing in, it’s another step in the right direction for us to win that game and if we win on Sunday, it puts us in good stead for the Nations League in the summer.”

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