England step up their World Cup preparations under the watch of heavy security in Repino | Football | Sport


Apart from Marcus Rashford who was having treatment on a knee injury picked up in their full-scale practice match at St George’s Park on Monday, all the other 22 members of Gareth Southgate’s squad were involved.

Eric Dier was heavily strapped during the session due to an ongoing groin problem.

It was an open session amid heavy security, watched by around 400 Russian fans plus around 150 media personnel – underlining the intense interest in England at this tournament.

Southgate, skipper Harry Kane and the players cane out from the dressing room to warm applause from the fans before being formally welcomed by local dignitaries.

The hard work has all been done back at St George’s so this was a light session – accompanied by rock music from the Public Address system! – under cloudy skies and cool temperatures, around 15 degrees cooler than it will be in Volgograd.

Captain Kane and manager Southgate were handed a Russian samovar – a heated metal container traditionally used to heat and boil water, and a karavai – a large round loaf of bread, ahead of their first session in Repino this morning.

Kane and Southgate were seen posing with their gifts before the session got underway.

It began with some gentle warm ups and shuttle runs. The three goalkeepers trained separately while the emphasis for the outfield players switched to passing drills and one and two touch games.

The hour-long session finished with a full- scale one touch game.

There was little to be gleaned from the way the two teams lined up but there were plenty of goals – the most eye catching was Jamie Vardy’s cheeky back heel effort.

Then it was over and Southgate and his players signed autographs for the fans.

The England manager seemed happy enough with the facilities, playing surface and the condition of his players – apart from the obvious concerns over Rashford.

Rashford though will intensive treatment in the coming days and is expected to be available for selection for the opening match.

Southgate was seen joining in among Ashley Young, Ruben Loftus-Cheek and Raheem Sterling at the Country Club ForRestMix resort.

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