Ivan Rakitic’s oppression has taken its toll on Barcelona and Croatia

"We have the solutions and we go to Wembley to enjoy the football".

Rakitic would not have been able to take on England in Sunday's crunch UEFA Nations League fixture, so the Croatian FA have decided the best option is for him to return to his club.

Harry Maguire and Kieran Trippier both started the World Cup semi-final between the sides in July, the latter opening the scoring with a wonderful free-kick, but the defensive duo missed out on Southgate's squad through injury.

For me, the last two months have been really positive.

When asked to compare his England side with the current generation, Rooney added: "The team I played in had superstars, but this team has also got superstars". They have the potential to go further and I know from the mentality of the players, even though they are young, the mentality is right.

Obviously I think Ramos, his record speaks for himself, the amount of trophies he's won, the amount of big games he's played.


"We want healthy players and Ivan in this moment is not 100 percent ready".

"I remember Slaven having a fantastic impact with the team", Southgate said. We have a completely new team, a completely new mindset.

He added: "I'm excited for them all because I'm a fan of England. I am happy with what I've contributed to the national team and I look forward now to the next few years and watching this team progress". They have outstanding athletes, a resilient mentality, we know the pride they have, we've seen first-hand and we saw the other night against Spain, with the celebrations.

They've already done that in getting to a semi-final but they can't sit there and say we were the team along with 1990 who got to the semi-final.

'But also we've got belief that we're improving, that we're learning all the time and people can see how hungry we are to succeed so we've got great motivation ahead of tomorrow's match'.

  • Steve Townsend