Manager Gareth Southgate has confirmed that England will take a knee injury ahead of their World Cup opener against Iran.
England have made gestures against racism and inequality in 33 consecutive matches after football returned after the Covid-19 lockdown.
England didn’t hit their knees in their September matches but will make a splash in Monday’s Group B opener at Khalifa International Stadium against Iran and beyond in the World Cup.
“We discussed taking the knee,” Southgate said. “We feel we have to. It’s what we stand for as a team and have done for a long period of time.
“Of course, we understand in the Premier League that clubs have decided to only do that in certain matches, on big occasions, we feel that’s the biggest.
“We think it’s a strong statement to go around the world for young people in particular to see that inclusivity is so important.”
The Premier League leaders decided before the start of this season to use specific kneeling moments rather than making the gesture in every game.
The teams agreed to perform the work before the allotted opening round There is no room for racism Matches in October and March, on Boxing Day and the Final Round, as well as the FA Cup and Carabao Cup finals.
Madison Walker outside Iran match
James Maddison and Kyle Walker will miss England’s opener but all the other players will be available for Southgate.
Walker is still recovering from hip surgery, while Madison has yet to train since arriving in Qatar after suffering a knee problem.
“Kyle Walker is a bit short in this game but he’s progressing well,” Southgate said. “We’re ahead of what we thought he might be at this point.”
“James hasn’t been able to train since we arrived, so he won’t be able to play tomorrow.”
Southgate continued: “Our challenge is to give our fans an unforgettable tournament. We have taken them on the amazing journeys of our lives to trophies.
“Our country is also going through a difficult phase – not like some other countries around the world.
“But we are in a recession and life has been difficult for a lot of our people, so we want them to enjoy their football and have a journey with our team that will bring them some real happiness.”
Kane: England are hungry for success
Captain Harry Kane said England go into the tournament hungry for success.
“Whenever you go through a period with a club or a national team and you haven’t won for a little while, you’re always hungrier to change that,” he said.
“We’ve had some tough games in that period, we’ve played some really good teams and we’ve had some decent away draws, but in the end we want to win games and the feeling of winning games is important.
“We went into a big tournament with that hunger. Iran is going to be really tough, and we know every game and every tournament is going to be tough.
“But of course we brace ourselves against any team and we know if we get it right tomorrow afternoon we have a really good chance of winning. It’s up to us, we’ve set up, it’s been a quick turnaround but we’re looking forward to starting the championship.”
Southgate added: “We are aware of the quality of the opponents, the group is very close in terms of the world ranking, so it is the most difficult and at the beginning everyone had optimism and hope, so the margins are always close in the opening matches.
“We’ve navigated the last two tournaments really well, but both games have been really tight and everyone wants to win the first game.
“The goal is to get out of the group, however you manage to do it, and that’s our number one goal.”
Queiroz: England is very dangerous
Carlos Queiroz – former assistant manager to Sir Alex Ferguson at Manchester United – has coached Iran at their third World Cup and has impressed England.
“This new generation that Gareth Southgate is bringing to the national team is in my opinion probably the most competitive England national team since 1966 that I’ve had the chance to see,” said the Portuguese.
“I remember this team very well but this team is very functional, very practical and very realistic.
“I work with Gil Rio (Ferdinand), Paul Scholes, David Beckham, all these guys.
“But this national team is really different, really because they take a realistic approach to any one game, which makes them very dangerous.”
2022 World Cup draw
- Group A: Qatar, Ecuador, Senegal, the Netherlands
- Group B: England, Iran, USA, Wales
- Group C: Argentina, Saudi Arabia, Mexico, Poland
- Group D: France, Australia, Denmark, Tunisia
- Group E: Spain, Costa Rica, Germany, Japan
- Sixth group: Belgium, Canada, Morocco, Croatia
- Group G: Brazil, Serbia, Switzerland, Cameroon
- Group H: Portugal, Ghana, Uruguay, South Korea