June 6, 2018 / 4:34 AM / 4 months ago

Reaching quarter-finals not good enough for England, says Sterling

(Reuters) - England will not be satisfied with reaching the quarter-finals of the World Cup as they have the skill and mentality to win the tournament, playmaker Raheem Sterling has said ahead of the team’s final warm-up match against Costa Rica on Thursday.

Soccer Football - FIFA World Cup - England Training - St. George's Park, Burton Upon Trent, Britain - June 6, 2018 England's Raheem Sterling during training Action Images via Reuters/Carl Recine

Fans and pundits have muted expectations of England’s World Cup campaign given the team’s underwhelming displays at the 2014 World Cup and the 2016 European Championships but Sterling has bolder ambitions.

“I’m not coming here to spend four, five, six weeks of my life to say, ‘let’s see what happens and hopefully last 16’,” the Manchester City player told reporters.

“We’ve got 23 very good players and we all have the mentality to say that we’re going to win the games that we win and what can stop us?...

“If 23 players want to win it, then 23 players have got that mentality. A quarter-final won’t be good enough, at all, because you want to win it.”

Soccer Football - FIFA World Cup - England Media Day - St. George's Park, Burton Upon Trent, Britain - June 5, 2018 England's Kyle Walker during the media day Action Images via Reuters/Carl Recine

England full-back Kyle Walker believes that the unity within the squad will be key if the team are to go deep in Russia.

“I fully believe in the players that we have in the squad. The manager has brought some brilliant ideas and we’ve all bought into it,” the Manchester City fullback told reporters.

“Now that we all click, I feel quite comfortable sitting with anyone and talking to them...

“That’s the environment that we need to take into the World Cup because the quality in the team is going to show for itself but also the togetherness is going to pull us through.”

Sterling echoed his team mate’s words.

“Everyone here gets along no matter what club you’re from,” he added. “Once we get here we’re always together, always having a laugh and a joke, so it’s great to see.”

England open their World Cup campaign against Group G rivals Tunisia on June 18. Panama and Belgium are the other teams in the group.

Reporting by Aditi Prakash in Bengaluru; editing by Sudipto Ganguly

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