Poland v England – Gareth Southgate aware of all threats coming his players’ way in Warsaw

Gareth Southgate knows England cannot just focus on star man Robert Lewandowski if they are to beat nearest challengers Poland and take a huge stride towards World Cup qualification in Warsaw.

Monday, 6th September 2021, 3:28 pm
MAIN MAN: Gareth Southgate knows England cannot just focus on star man Robert Lewandowski Picture: Nick Potts/PA.

After securing an impressive 4-0 win against Hungary last Thursday, the Three Lions boss fully rotated his starting line-up as they won by the same scoreline against Andorra on Sunday.

Jesse Lingard’s brace was complemented by Harry Kane and Bukayo Saka efforts as England strengthened their grip on Group I as they returned to Wembley for the first time since the Euro 2020 final defeat.

Southgate’s side have won all five matches at the halfway point of this World Cup qualification campaign and the rest of the road to Qatar would appear straightforward if they win in Warsaw on Wednesday.

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England's Gareth Southgate speaks with substitute Harry Kane on the touchline at Wembley on Sunday Picture: Nick Potts/PA

“Clearly with the result that Hungary have ended up with (losing 1-0 to Albania), Poland look like being the nearest challengers, which we probably thought when this group was drawn,” Southgate said. “It’s a great incentive for us now. If we can go to Warsaw and win then we really are in control of the group.”

England defender Harry Maguire secured a late 2-1 win against Poland in March, when the visitors were without Bayern Munich sharpshooter Lewandowski through injury.

Head coach Paulo Sousa said they are not the same side without the striker, who will be leading the line against the Three Lions at Stadion Narodowy.

“They played at Wembley without him and they gave a very good account of themselves,” Southgate said.

“We only scored really late on in the game to win it, so of course it’s no different if we didn’t have Harry Kane or Raheem (Sterling) then they would be a big loss to us. The very top players for any team in the world are a loss if you don’t have them and every coach will feel the same way.

“But when we’re preparing the team to play against Poland, we’re not just looking at Lewandowski.

“We absolutely respect what he brings and we know what a threat he is, but they’ve got some other very dangerous players as well.”

Lewandowski scored twice in Poland’s 7-1 win in San Marino on Sunday, shortly after a much-changed England completed their comfortable, defeat of Andorra.