Jamie Vardy has likened the feel-good spirit in England’s World Cup camp to the atmosphere at Leicester City when they won the Premier League title in 2016.
After England’s first training session at Zelenogorsk, along the coast from the team hotel in Repino, the striker said the sense of camaraderie was “very similar” to that at his club during their amazing campaign two seasons ago.
“We were exactly the same, very close,” Vardy added. “Always wanting to do things together and having a laugh and a joke at training. But then once we stepped over the white line it was a different story … it has got the same environment and attitude from all the lads.”
Vardy even described it as a “party atmosphere”, although, given the admirably professional and sober nature of this squad, the description has different connotations to those of in the past.
The 31-year-old is not expected to start the opening Group G fixture against Tunisia in Volgograd and may even have fallen behind Marcus Rashford – if fit – to be the first attacking substitute turned to by Gareth Southgate after the Manchester United forward’s impressive performance in the final warm-up game against Costa Rica.
Rashford sat out the training session as he recovers from what has been described as a “minor knock” to his knee picked up in training on Monday.
“We all know we are a 23-man squad and we are all here for a reason,” Vardy said. “The gaffer has picked us because he thinks we are the best the country has got. So we are all here with the same mentality, all wanting to win, all wanting to play. Unfortunately, you cannot have that all of the time – you can only have 11 players on the pitch.
“You just have to make sure you put in the pressure on the training field and, if you get given a chance, take it.
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“We are all confident. We have all got that mentality where you just want to win. We want to make sure we are here as winners. We have all won things ourselves at our respective clubs and we want to take that on to the international stage now. We all know that, on our day, we can beat anyone and cause anyone problems, so that is why we have got the confidence to think we can win it.
“We have definitely got the momentum going into it with the two results. Mood-wise, it feels like the excitement is building. Nobody is keeping themselves to themselves, everybody is doing stuff together. Everybody is having a laugh. It doesn’t matter what we are doing, we are doing it as a group. That is how it should be, to my mind. I think that when you are enjoying it more, you play your best football.”
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Meanwhile, Eric Dier has dismissed concerns over his fitness, despite being spotted at training with heavy strapping on his left leg. The midfielder is vying with Jordan Henderson for a starting place but claimed wearing the strapping was nothing more than a “superstition”. “It is just a superstition more than anything now,” Dier said. “It’s just because I’ve had a problem with my leg and it’s cleared up now. I was wearing the strapping before and I just haven’t stopped wearing it yet. I will eventually.”
The issue is believed to have been a historic groin problem, which has cleared up, and Dier took a full part in training.
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