'Cut-throat' England boss Southgate deserves massive credit – Crouch

Ahead of Thursday’s game with Belgium, the former Three Lions forward praised the coach for how he’s handled ushering in a new generation of stars

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Peter Crouch has heaped praise on England manager Gareth Southgate for his “cut-throat” culling of veteran players heading into their final group game against Belgium.

England have already qualified for the last 16 after putting in impressive showings in victories over Tunisia and Panama. They face next Roberto Martinez’s side in a game that will decide who tops Group G on Thursday.

Crouch, who was capped 42 times for England, believes that a lot of the credit should go to Southgate for the Three Lions’ excellent start to Russia 2018, which has been well-received by fans back home.

“I think he deserves a hell of a lot of credit. He made some cut-throat decisions with Joe Hart, with Wayne Rooney before the tournament even started,” the 37-year-old told Goal.

“They were difficult decisions because they are big characters in the dressing room and I think he’s done that, he’s made it a youthful side.

“We’re full of pace, full of energy. It’s very young, it’s exciting and I think a lot of that is down to Gareth, who’s made those decisions.”

England were boosted by a last-minute winner against Tunisia and showed how much confidence they are playing with by putting on a showcase in their hammering of Panama.

Heading into this tournament there were very few expectations of England success, especially after their disappointing Euro 2016 exit to Iceland in the last 16.

But since former England international Southgate took over in September 2016, there has been a newfound belief in the squad that has continued to grow with each passing game.

Crouch has been delighted by the performances of the current crop of players and is hopeful that they can go far in the tournament.

He added: “I’ve been very, very impressed. I love the energy, I love the style of play, and I think the manager has got everyone believing again.

“Coming in to the tournament I don’t think many people gave us a chance, I think it’s amazing after two games everyone now thinks we can win it so it’s a big, big turnaround. I think he’s given the nation hope.

“They were two games that we expected to win [versus Tunisia and Panama], but I just don’t think we expected to win so convincingly.

“We’re very pleased with the way it’s gone, I think the substitutions have been spot on and formations and tactics so, hopefully we can go far. You couldn’t ask for more.”

England will face one of the top two from Group H in the last 16, and should they get to the quarter-finals they will face either Brazil, Mexico, Switzerland or Sweden.

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