Paul Ince: Quarter finals would be progress for England

The former England midfielder says that the young Three Lions should reach the last eight in Russia, but will have to rely on the likes of Joe Hart to cope with the mental challenge...


This is probably the first tournament in many years into which England are going without any expectations.

They’re building up a young squad, and have a manager in place who is trying to change things from a physical, mental and technical point of view. There’s no pressure on them, except to get through the group.

Having said that, with the players they’ve got – top-class operators like Harry Kane and Dele Alli – I’d still see it as a failure if they didn’t get to the quarter-finals. They should be getting that far.

I hate to say it, but I can’t see them winning it. I don’t think they’re ready yet. But, if they do get to the last eight, I’d see that as a bit of progress.

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Joe Hart has to go to Russia

We were blessed with goalkeepers in our era. Now, we’re looking and hoping for someone to stand out this season.

Joe Hart’s not really playing much this year, but I’d still take him because of his experience. He’s been at World Cups before and he knows what it’s all about.

People are talking about Jordan Pickford, Jack Butland and young Nick Pope at Burnley, but no-one’s really grabbing that number one shirt.

As for the backline, there are lots of questions to be answered.

Question mark over mental strength

When you look at The Three Lions squad, the most important issue is the mental side of things.

Going into a World Cup, it’s knockout football and you know you need to win your first game, especially since we play Belgium last in the group.

At the last World Cup, we froze. At the European Championship, we struggled.

It’s really all about how they can handle the mental challenges of the big stage.

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What do you think?