“Southgate’s mind already on France” – Man City star being prepared for huge World Cup role

Despite being scheduled to play a World Cup Round of Last 16 knockout tie against Senegal on Sunday, Gareth Southgate’s mind is already focused on beating France later on in the tournament.

That’s according to British agent Haydn Dodge, who believes the Three Lions’ boss is expecting to meet Didier Deschamps’ Les Bleus in the World Cup quarter-finals in a little over a week’s time.

After topping Group B, England will now face off against Senegal, who finished as Group A’s runners-up. The knockout clash is set to take place at the Al Bayt Stadium on December 4 and will kick off at 7 p.m (UK time).

Should England beat their upcoming African opponents and France get the better of Poland earlier in the day, then the two European heavyweights will meet in the next round on December 10, and Dodge believes that is why full-back Kyle Walker has finally been introduced into first team action.

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Awarded his first start of the competition on Tuesday against Wales, Manchester City’s Walker replaced Kieran Trippier at right-back and helped form part of a traditional back-four alongside John Stones, Harry Maguire and Luke Shaw.

However, although Trippier was left out for the Wales game Dodge expects both full-backs to feature later on in the tournament, with Walker likely to be instructed to deal with France’s star boy Kylian Mbappe.

“I think Kyle Walker was used against Wales as a way to give him some minutes to prepare him, not just for Senegal, but for France, and Kylian Mbappe in particular,” Dodge said in an exclusive interview.

“I definitely think Southgate’s mind is already on France in the quarter-finals.

“In two games’ time (fingers crossed we get there), I bet he will go to a back five and instruct Walker to play on the right side of three centre-backs and cover for Kieran Trippier.”

Should England and France meet in the World Cup quarter-finals, how do you think Southgate should line his defence up? – Let us know in the comments.

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