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Dublin: 7 °C Sunday 24 March, 2019

'It's a journey I didn't expect or want to be on'

Gareth Southgate’s England get their World Cup campaign underway tomorrow.

ENGLAND MANAGER GARETH has said that he never expected to lead his country into a World Cup, but is now excited by the prospect of doing it in Russia.

Southgate was promoted from the under-21 set up to guide England through qualifying when Sam Allardyce’s short reign was ended after one game in charge.

The 47-year-old has been impressive during his tenure as Three Lions boss so far, but admits he had reservations about taking the job given the circumstances.

“It’s a journey I didn’t expect or want to be on,” Southgate told BBC Sport . “I was hoping that in the last Euros the team was going to do really well and Roy [Hodgson] would still be there.

“When Sam Allardyce was appointed, I was under-21 coach and there to support him.

“I have said from the off I wasn’t comfortable with the manner in which I took the reins, but I have enjoyed the responsibility.

“I’ve enjoyed having the role and I think I was the best qualified person with the best experiences to take it at the time it came up.”

England get their tournament underway tomorrow when they face Tunisia in their opening Group G fixture.

Meanwhile, striker Harry Kane is adamant that captaining the side at the World Cup will not impact on his own game

“Whatever anyone says, my game has always been about putting the team first,” he said.

“For me, nothing changes whether I am captain or not. I make the best decision for the team – and hopefully it’s the right one.

“I feel exactly the same now as I did before I was captain. I don’t feel any extra pressure just because I’m wearing the armband. My game won’t change. Certainly my personality won’t change.

“I still look to push myself, to push other players, and I hope my team-mates can now look at me as someone they can talk to. But I’m still the same man. I haven’t changed.

“I don’t feel that just because I am captain I don’t have to maintain the standards I have set. When you are England’s striker, you have a responsibility to score the goals.”

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