Gareth Southgate has encouraged England to take the next step in their World Cup healing process by booking a place in the Nations League Finals.

The Rugby Football Union (RFU) will begin the search for a new chief executive after Steve Brown announced he will stand down from the post at the end of the year.

Brown has been with the governing body for English rugby since 2011 and was the managing director of the organising committee for the 2015 Rugby World Cup.

He took over as the RFU's chief executive since September 2017, with director of professional rugby Nigel Melville will fill the role on an interim basis until a full-time replacement is found.

"This has been a very difficult decision for me to make, and I informed the RFU board earlier this week that the time is right for me to step down and take some time out," Brown said.

"I've loved my time in rugby and am deeply proud to have made a contribution to a sport I love."

Ivan Rakitic is out of Croatia's crunch Nations League clash with England, coach Zlatko Dalic has confirmed.

Rakitic was substituted during the second half of Croatia's dramatic 3-2 victory at home to Spain on Thursday, with Tin Jedvaj hitting a 93rd-minute winner.

That result set up a decider against England at Wembley on Sunday, but Rakitic will be unable to play due to his injury.

"I asked for the change because I had discomfort," Rakitic said after the Spain win.

Croatia will qualify for the finals of the inaugural Nations League if they beat England in a repeat of the World Cup semi-final, but will be relegated to League B if they lose.

Dalic confirmed the injury news at Zagreb airport, with Barcelona midfielder Rakitic set to return to his club for treatment.

"He will go to Barcelona because there is an injury," Dalic told reporters. "You know my practice not to risk [players] if there is anything suspicious.

"We want healthy and ready players, Ivan Rakitic at the moment is not one hundred per cent ready for the game so unfortunately we go without him.

"We've got [Nikola] Vlasic, [Mateo] Kovacic, [Josip] Brekalo, we have [Milan] Badelj, we always have solutions. We'll look for another solution and that will be fine, I hope."

Rakitic's injury is also bad news for Barcelona, although he is unavailable for their next LaLiga game, away to title rivals Atletico Madrid a week on Saturday.

He was sent off in Barca's last match, a 4-3 reverse at home to Real Betis, so he will be serving a suspension.

Joe Root was pleased to lead by example after his superb century boosted England's hopes of a series-clinching victory in Pallekele.

After overcoming a scratchy start, Root blossomed to make 124 from 146 deliveries on day three of the second Test against Sri Lanka, helping the tourists reach 324-9 before heavy rain cut short the final session.

Still, despite the damp finish to proceedings, England's overall outlook is bright. They hold a 278-run lead and, on a wearing pitch, will hope their trio of spinners can secure an unassailable 2-0 lead with one Test remaining.

Having called for his batsmen to play positively in tough conditions prior to the tour, Root was happy to back up his words with an aggressive knock that included 10 fours and two sixes.

"They're all different, but that was a thoroughly enjoyable one today," the Yorkshireman said of his 15th Test ton in an interview with Sky Sports.

"Obviously it was quite challenging on that surface but the most pleasing thing for me was that I've asked the guys to play in a certain manner when we've come to this part of the world and in these conditions, so you want to set the example and lead from the front, play in that manner yourself.

"For it to come off as it did today is really pleasing.

"You look at the group of players we've got and it suits their natural games. You've got to play your advantage and we've certainly done that on this tour so far with the bat.

"You're not going to get it right all the time but we've given ourselves a really good chance, especially now in this game.

"If we bowl pretty well on that surface, hopefully we will be able to create at least 10 chances."

The right-handed batsman admitted it was tough going in the early stages of his innings, describing his batting like a "reverse swan" as he looked frantic on the outside but remained somewhat calm underneath.

"To start, I felt a bit all over the place at the start, a bit hectic," he added. "It was like a reverse swan, as I felt calm underneath but my legs were flapping on the outside.

"It was just about trying to get the bowlers to bowl in the areas you wanted them to. Take a few risks early and get used to the surface and how it was playing.

"Once I got to 20-odd, got a few boundaries away, I felt I was picking length pretty well in terms of sweeping. It sort of made things a lot easier, and from that point you figure out a good method of how to play on that surface."

Root also praised top-order duo Rory Burns and Keaton Jennings, who made 59 and 26 respectively to help erase a small first-innings deficit following the early departure of nightwatchman Jack Leach.

"We kept the board going at a really good rate, especially in that first session," the skipper said.

"Credit to the guys for coming out and playing that way. We lost Leach early and, looking at the scoreboard with a bit of a deficit, the temptation is to go into your shell.

"But the guys played with freedom and a lot of courage, as well as showing respect to the good balls out there."

Zlatko Dalic said his Croatia bench were ready to run on the pitch to stop a Spain counter-attack before Tin Jedvaj struck a dramatic late winner in Thursday’s Nations League clash.

Jedvaj's second of the game, in the 93rd minute, secured a 3-2 victory in Zagreb to set up a winner-takes-all clash against England at Wembley on Sunday.

The victor will progress to the Nations League finals while the loser will be relegated from League A, with a draw sending pool leaders Spain through.

And Dalic, who led Croatia to the World Cup final after beating England in the semis, indicated he was prepared to take drastic action in the closing stages while his side poured forward in attack.

"It's an image that has to go into history: we are attacking with all players in the last minute," Dalic said after his side's win.

"It was a strange situation with two unmarked Spaniards in the centre. We were even ready to run out from the bench in order to prevent a possible Spanish counter-attack.

"I called and screamed, but no one wanted to go back. Everyone went in for a shot. It was about the character of the players, their power and strength."

Spain coach Luis Enrique complained the result was unfair, telling reporters: "Under no circumstances did we deserve to lose."

And Ivan Rakitic, who played under Luis Enrique at Barcelona, accepted Croatia rode their luck to snatch a 3-2 win.

"First of all, we have seen a great football match. The people in the stadium and at home have enjoyed a great game," Rakitic, who was replaced with an injury in the second half, said to Teledeporte. "The last goal came with a bit of luck and this victory gives strength to the group.

"When you play in such a group and you see the other groups, you realise that we did not have much luck in the draw, but this is the beautiful thing: now we have to play at Wembley and fight to be first."

Captain Luka Modric denied pre-match that his side were out for revenge after a 6-0 thrashing against Spain in September, but he accepted Croatia wanted to right the wrongs of that loss.

"Of course we were motivated, especially because of the serious defeat in Elche, but the full stadium was our second important motive," Modric said. "Such a great atmosphere raised us, especially at the critical stages of the game, and I believe that such support will now become a tradition.

"Players who came from the bench brought new energy, an extra dimension, and we need it. They showed that they belong in the national team and will surely continue to grow in the coming games. We have to have a good rest, [it will be] a fast match with England, it will be hard again against an excellent rival, but I believe we will gather strength."

Joe Root made a brilliant attacking century to give England a substantial lead despite Akila Dananjaya's six-wicket haul on day three of the second Test against Sri Lanka in Pallekele.

Root went on the attack to give the tourists a great chance of winning the series with a match to spare, the captain scoring a masterful 124 from only 146 balls.

Rory Burns (59) hit a maiden Test half-century and Ben Foakes continued his dream start to his England career with an unbeaten 51 on a pitch offering plenty of turn on Friday.

Dananjaya, reported for a suspect bowling action in the first Test, took Test-best figures of 6-106 but England were 324-9 with a lead of 278 when play was cut short due to bad light before the rain came.

Joe Leach succeeded with his task of seeing out one over as nightwatchman on day two, but failed to hang around in the morning session, Dilruwan Perera (2-87) trapping him leg before sweeping.

Keaton Jennings (26) and Burns moved England into a lead of 31 with a positive second-wicket stand of 73 before the former was caught at slip reverse-sweeping Dananjaya.

Burns did not allow the Sri Lanka bowlers to settle, striking the ball with power and running superbly between the wickets in a promising knock which included seven boundaries before Malinda Pushpakumara snared him lbw.

England were 109-4 when Perera pinned Ben Stokes leg before without scoring, but Root looked in great touch from the start of his innings and put on 74 for the fifth wicket with Jos Buttler. 

Buttler (34) played on attempting to reverse sweep Dananjaya, but Root continued to use his feet expertly, finding the boundary with apparent ease as he took on the spinners.

Root shifted through the gears after bringing up his half-century, Sri Lanka unable to contain the skipper, who continued to charge down the track, smashing Perera for six over midwicket before Moeen Ali departed cheaply.

The magnificent Root moved into the 90s by launching Dananjaya over the ropes and let out a roar after bringing up his 15th Test hundred by steering Suranga Lakmal to the third-man boundary just after tea.

Root was also undone sweeping Dananjaya, but the impressive Foakes had a half-century when he swatted Perera over the ropes after Dananjaya bowled Sam Curran first ball with a beauty and then removed Adil Rashid. 

Deteriorating light and a subsequent downpour brought a premature halt to what was England's day, Foakes still there brimming with confidence following his debut hundred in Galle.

Croatia hero Tin Jedvaj believes his team may go into their blockbuster meeting with England as favourites after a thrilling win over Spain.

The full-back scored a brace, including a 93rd-minute winner, to guide Croatia to a 3-2 victory in Zagreb in the Nations League on Thursday.

It set up a huge clash against England on Sunday, with both nations needing a win to reach the finals and avoid relegation from League A.

Jedvaj backed his team to deliver at Wembley, saying Croatia had already proven a point against England with their win in the World Cup semi-finals.

"First of all, I want to congratulate all my team-mates, they gave all they had. They gave 100 per cent in every duel," the Bayer Leverkusen defender told UEFA.com.

"Before the game, we said that we only wanted a win. That was our approach, we played a very tough opponent that will for sure create chances in every match they play. I think we limited their chances to a minimum, but they always find a way to score.

"At the end, we had one goal more, which was enough to motivate us to go for a win in England.

"In Russia, we proved that we could beat them without any problems and that they aren't better than us. We might even be the favourites despite the fact that we are playing away. I don't know.

"They are England but we believe that we can win and end the group stage on top."

Wayne Rooney has backed England captain Harry Kane to break his record tally of 53 international goals for the nation.

Callum Wilson and Jadon Sancho paid tribute to "legend" and "role model" Wayne Rooney following a farewell win for England's record goalscorer against the United States.

Debutant Wilson put the finishing touch on a 3-0 victory at Wembley with Jesse Lingard's stunner and Trent Alexander-Arnold's first England goal having put the hosts on course.

But the evening belonged to Rooney, who came off the bench for his 120th and final cap, with Wilson saying the memories of making his debut, and scoring, alongside the Three Lions great will stay with him forever.

"I have no words, it hasn't sunk in at the moment. It was an opportunity for me and I just wanted to grab it with both hands," he told Sky Sports. 

"Wayne Rooney is a legend for England, to receive my shirt from him before the game was a great honour and I got to share the pitch with him as well.

"His chapter is ending now and mine is just starting. I thought the chance [to score] had gone, I knew time was not on my side, I saw Marcus Rashford standing there [waiting to come on] and I thought I had a few minutes.

"It is a day I will treasure for the rest of my life."

Borussia Dortmund teenager Sancho, making a first England start, was among those in an experimental side to impress and said a pep talk from Rooney inspired him to demonstrate his abilities.

"Playing with Wayne Rooney was a dream come true because obviously he is a big legend and a role model to me," he told BBC Radio 5 live.

"I was a bit nervous ahead of the game and he came over to me and told me to just express myself because I had nothing to lose.

"Without that talk I might have still been nervous. I never thought I would make my debut at 18 years old but I just have to thank the coaches for giving me the opportunity to play."

Alexander-Arnold, who won the Man of the Match award, was thrilled to get off the mark for England and hopes to emulate Rooney's number of caps.

"He is someone who I have seen when I was younger and tried to replicate, I want to be making the same amount of appearances for England as him," he told Sky Sports.

"I have been watching Rooney from early on, he came on the scene from a seriously young age and he's shown that from when he was young he was scoring goals, doing his job and worked really hard."

Gareth Southgate believes his England side will have learned the art of humility from Wayne Rooney's involvement with the squad over the past week.

Luis Enrique was left clinging to Spain's slim hopes of a Finals place in the Nations League after Croatia won 3-2 in Zagreb on Thursday.

Wayne Rooney is convinced England are in safe hands with Gareth Southgate and his coaching staff after saying farewell to the Three Lions in Thursday's 3-0 win over the United States.

Wayne Rooney bade a fond farewell to England as an experimental Three Lions side coasted to a 3-0 friendly win over the United States at Wembley on Thursday.

England captain Joe Root received the first demerit point of his career for breaching the ICC's code of conduct on a day when Sri Lanka claimed a 46-run lead in Pallekele.

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