Sarina Wiegman is an outstanding coach and could succeed Gareth Southgate as manager of the England men's national team, says former Spain captain Veronica Boquete.

With reports suggesting Southgate may depart after he leads the Three Lions to his fourth major tournament at Euro 2024, various coaches have been touted as potential successors.  

Manchester City's Pep Guardiola is a reported target for the Football Association, but Wiegman's name has also been mentioned after she led the Lionesses to Euro 2022 glory last year.

Wiegman was denied another trophy as England were beaten by Spain in last month's Women's World Cup final, but Boquete remains convinced by her work with the Lionesses.  

The 36-year-old midfielder – who captained her country at the 2015 World Cup – feels Wiegman's name should be in the conversation.

"I think this is going to arrive, there is going to be a moment where a woman will be coaching a high-level [men's] team or national team," Boquete told Stats Perform. "She has already showed that she is a fantastic coach, that she has the knowledge, that she is a leader. So why not? 

"What are they going to say? 'Oh, no, she cannot be the coach of the men's national team' – Why not? She has already proved that she is great. 

"For me, it's about capacities and knowledge and if the players want to be coached by the best. If she is the best, they should give her the chance. 

"Everyone would be supporting her because it would be something fantastic for football but also for society."

Spain's first Women's World Cup win was overshadowed by the behaviour of Spanish Football Federation [RFEF] president Luis Rubiales, who has been provisionally suspended by FIFA after grabbing Jennifer Hermoso and kissing the forward on the lips.

A group of 81 players have refused to represent La Roja if Rubiales remains in post, while head coach Jorge Vilda – who was the subject of a player revolt previously – was sacked a little over two weeks after lifting the World Cup.

Wiegman was praised for speaking out in support of Spain's players upon receiving the UEFA Women's Coach of the Year award in Monaco last week, and her comments further convinced Boquete of her leadership skills. 

"I think her speech was fantastic and it gave hope to so many people to really believe in change," she added.

"It's crazy that the coach of the team that loses the final offered her moment to those players that are in this crazy situation, to defend something in such a strong way. I already had so much respect for her on the sporting side, but obviously now also on the personal side. 

"I consider her a leader, globally, and her words were just fantastic. I think we need to say thanks so many times because it was her moment and we kind of stole it, so we really appreciate it."

Asked about the controversy engulfing women's football in Spain, Boquete claimed her nation had enough talent to win previous World Cups, only to be held back by the RFEF's poor leadership. 

"It is not easy to explain to other countries all the things that are going on behind the scenes," she said. "Everyone will say 'yeah, but you're winning, how is that possible?' 

"I say, yeah, we win because we have a lot of talent. Normally with their clubs, they have better conditioning so they develop and that's great, but can you imagine if everyone was working in the right way a long time ago? We could have been world champions 10 years ago. 

"We were missing a lot of chances. We just want change so that it doesn't happen again and Spain can always be at the top.

"We already had the talent before, we had amazing players that didn't win anything because the people in charge didn't help them develop. So we just want the [right] people on top, so everyone can just be focused on being the best."

James Maddison was turned into a YouTube star by his father and now the Tottenham man is hoping his next highlight reel can compare to those of the likes of Paul Gascoigne and Wayne Rooney as he targets success with England.

As Maddison rose up through the Coventry academy his story was documented by his dad Gary – who launched his own YouTube channel in 2006 to showcase his son’s burgeoning ability.

The five videos available on the channel – @gazmaddy – have amassed over 175,000 views in total.

Gary had earlier put together compilations of his favourite players, with Maddison glued to the screen as a boy watching edited clips of Gascoigne.

Maddison, 26, admits he is not old enough to remember Gascoigne in his pomp, but his father made up for that.

“My dad used to put football videos together. He is a graphic designer and is good with computers and stuff,” he said.

“He used to put montages together and stuff and Gazza features on a lot of them, so I remember a lot of his clips.”

Maddison has excelled since joining Spurs from Leicester in the summer and has taken on the role of entertainer in the Tottenham team – a tag Gascoigne always enjoyed during his stint at White Hart Lane.

“Growing up, I was a footie fan. Before you become a professional, you are a fan of the game and I loved players who had personality,” he said.

“I loved watching players who had a little bit of cheekiness about them, a little bit more than your bog-standard. I’m not sure what I mean by bog-standard but I like players who show their personality when they play.

“Gazza was a perfect example. For example, something silly… I remember a clip where the cameras are going down the national anthem and it gets to him and he sticks his tongue out and starts messing around with the camera and going all bog-eyed – and I just love that. That’s why I like interacting with fans and showing my personality.

“I like the theatre element of almost being the villain a little bit. That keeps me at my best. That’s how I enjoyed watching it and that’s how enjoy playing it.”

Maddison, who will be aiming to add to his three senior England caps in the upcoming games against Ukraine and Scotland, cited former captain Rooney among a number of more contemporary examples of the players he looks up to.

“I love Wayne Rooney and in more recent times when I started to know a little more about football and we were in the academy and there was more of a realistic chance of becoming a footballer,” he added.

“I loved Philippe Coutinho when he was at Liverpool and David Silva, who had 10 brilliant years at (Manchester) City. Christian Eriksen when he first came to Spurs. I would probably say Rooney was the big one in my childhood. I used to love Wazza.

“Again, he was someone who played with personality. He was a bit more feisty than me – a bit harder into a tackle – but his personality and the way he came through in the way he played. And that’s what I enjoy.”

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Injury, form and fierce competition have limited Maddison to a bit-part playing role on the international stage to date.

After playing down suggestions of any previous rift with manager Gareth Southgate, he admits travelling to the World Cup and not being able to play because of a niggling knee complaint has given him even more reason to feature at Euro 2024.

“It definitely gave me motivation for Germany,” he said of his non-playing stint in Qatar.

“I was so proud to be there representing my country. Gareth gave me a massive compliment as we were leaving. He said he knew it has been tough with the injury and not featuring, but he was really impressed with the way I had carried myself round the group.

“Him putting his arm around me and saying that as we were leaving stuck with me. I made a conscious effort not to be down, even though I was at the World Cup and I wanted to play for England. It has given me a hunger. I just want more and more.

“I’ve been ready for a long time, in my head. But there is so much talent here, such a great squad of players in terms of pure ability and talent. We see it in training every day – the standard is so high and it’s brilliant to be a part of.”

Steve Borthwick insists England are ready to defy gloomy predictions for their World Cup by delivering a reaction against Argentina in Saturday’s pivotal opener.

The Pumas are in the rare position of being assigned favourites for the main event of Pool D, based on a strong year under the guidance of Michael Cheika and their 30-29 victory at Twickenham in November.

England, meanwhile, have gone into freefall following a run of five defeats in six Tests that no longer makes qualification for the knockout phase appear to be the formality it once was.

Borthwick, who has named Alex Mitchell at scrum-half and Tom Curry at openside for the Marseille showdown, insists the low expectations have sent ripples of indignation through the squad.

“I sense there is a feeling among the players they’ve been written off too early. People have called time on them a bit too early,” England’s head coach said.

“I sense the frustration about what people have been saying about them and right now I have an expectation that they will go and perform with the quality that they have.

“I sense from them that there’s a real determination to go and put their best performances on the park.

“There is a lot of class in this squad. The players have a hell of a lot more to go. They can’t wait to get stuck in on Saturday night.

“Our job is put in a performance that this team is capable of and I know these players are capable of. I know these players are determined to deliver on Saturday night. That’s our job now.”

Borthwick’s theme of an England side ready to exit their slump in time to make an impact at the World Cup was taken up by captain Courtney Lawes, who is leading the team in the absence of the suspended Owen Farrell.

When asked if the players are angry at recent performances, Lawes replied: “There’s definitely a frustration. We feel it as much as anybody.

“We are in the thick of it and we are doing everything we can to make sure, come this weekend, we are firing on all cylinders.

“It’s going to be a hell of a spectacle, so enjoy it. We are going out all guns blazing and we are going to give it everything we have got.

“It’s the first game of the World Cup and we’re going to be well up for it.”

Offering hope to England supporters is the selection of Mitchell ahead of Danny Care and Ben Youngs, with the 26-year-old half-back a more dynamic presence than his veteran rivals for the jersey.

The tempo and energy brought by Mitchell, both through his delivery and with the ball in hand, was one of the few highlights to emerge from a chastening defeat by Fiji last month.

Remarkably he starts in England’s biggest game since the 2019 World Cup final despite being overlooked for their original 33-man squad, with an injury to Jack van Poortvliet offering his route to France.

“Alex was a dangerous running threat against Fiji; everyone knows he is a dangerous running threat,” Borthwick said.

“Immense credit to Mitch in that he was incredibly disappointed not to make the original 33-man squad. An opportunity opened up.

“One of the positives that came out of that Fiji game was his performance. He played well and he’s trained exceptionally well. He’s ready to go.”

Curry’s influence on the team is evident through his promotion to the back row despite having missed the entire build-up campaign because of an ankle injury sustained in training.

“We have got players throughout this 23 who have performed on the biggest of stages and Tom Curry is one of them,” Borthwick said.

“He’s in fantastic physical condition; he missed a period of training but his movement is exceptional.”

Ben Stokes revealed he has a “plan” to try to resolve a longstanding problem with his left knee and get back to being a fully fledged all-rounder once the Cricket World Cup has finished.

England’s Test captain said at the end of the Ashes “serious conversations” would be had about the issue that restricted him to bowling 29 overs in the drawn series and none in the last three matches.

He has since reversed his ODI retirement for England’s bid to retain their World Cup crown – having been so influential to their 2019 success – and will travel to India next month as a specialist batter.

Once England’s involvement is over in mid-November, Stokes will turn his attention to his ailing limb and attempt to recover in plenty of time for the five-match Test tour of India, starting on January 25.

However, while Stokes is upbeat about his prognosis, he stopped short of divulging whether an operation is required or if the specialists he has seen have recommended an alternative course of action.

“I’ve had some good conversations with specialists in different fields around rehab and a plan going forward after the World Cup,” Stokes said.

“There will be potential of something happening after the World Cup. There will be a time I make clear what’s going on, but I don’t think now is the right time to do that, with everything we have got coming up.”

He added to the BBC: “There’s actually quite a long time off after the World Cup. It’s nice knowing after the World Cup we’ve got something, a really good plan we can do and we can stick to.

“I want to be playing next summer as a genuine all-rounder. This winter is all about playing this World Cup then getting this knee sorted.”

Stokes, who is set for his first ODI in 14 months as England take on New Zealand at Sophia Gardens in Cardiff on Friday, admitted he was “exhausted, tired (and) had a lot of naps” after a gruelling Ashes.

A schedule of five Tests in six and a half weeks stretched Stokes to the limit but after a trip away with his family, he confessed the pull of the World Cup was the deciding factor in his ODI comeback.

Player of the match in the 2019 final, Stokes, whose unbeaten fifty secured T20 World Cup glory last November, insisted he felt no pressure to return from captain Jos Buttler or head coach Matthew Mott.

“It’s been a conversation that’s been ongoing with Jos and Motty. We kept it pretty internal and just had catch-ups along the road,” Stokes said. “It wasn’t a case of forcing me into coming.

“I said, ‘I’m available if you want to select me’. It was nice having that communication, but no push from Jos or Mott. It was nice to know they wanted to pick me even though I probably won’t bowl a ball.

“Going into this one as world champions, playing a part in that in 2019, that was an unbelievable moment for us as a team and myself. The idea of going in and potentially being able to win back-to-back World Cups was one of the big things.”

Stokes anticipates he will slot in at number four in the batting order, one position higher than he is accustomed to and in a spot the now-retired Eoin Morgan occupied for the majority of his tenure.

England are set for their first ODI against the Black Caps since the dramatic 2019 World Cup final at Lord’s – the teams will also contest this year’s tournament opener in Ahmedabad on October 5.

As for their chances this time around, Stokes was in a bullish mood as he added: “It’s not arrogant for us to say that we’re a very good team.

“We like our chances but the thing about World Cups is who can handle the pressure the best on any given day. The teams who can handle the emotional side of the sport is something that should never be overlooked.”

England have taken a step towards igniting their attack by picking Alex Mitchell at scrum-half for their crucial World Cup opener against Argentina in Marseille on Saturday.

Mitchell was omitted from the original 33-man squad named by Steve Borthwick only to be given a reprieve when Jack van Poortvliet suffered a tournament-ending ankle injury.

Having impressed on his first Test start against Fiji, the 26-year-old has retained half-back duties with the aim of adding zip to England’s game, while Danny Care provides support from the bench.

Tom Curry makes his first appearance under Borthwick and his maiden outing at any level since Sale lost to Saracens in the Gallagher Premiership final in May after being given the nod at openside.

Curry has been struggling with an ankle injury sustained during training in early August but in an indication of his influence on England, he has been thrust straight into the back row.

England coach Jon Lewis says it was worth the risk of picking some untried players in the Twenty20 international series defeat to Sri Lanka.

The tourists claimed a historic victory after winning the decider at Derby by seven wickets, thanks to Chamari Athapaththu’s heroics.

Athapaththu took three wickets for 21 runs as the hosts were bowled out for 116 before hitting 44 to fire her side to victory, which sealed a memorable 2-1 series success.

It meant that England lost a T20 series to a team other than Australia for the first time since 2010, while also losing a first-ever white-ball series to Sri Lanka.

On the back of the Women’s Ashes earlier in the summer, England used the opportunity to try some fresh blood in this series, with the likes of Mahika Gaur and Maia Bouchier given a chance and Lewis called it a “valuable exercise”.

“I learned a lot, a hell of a lot,” he said.

“Without going into specific individuals, I feel like we are on a journey as a team and we are trying to work out how we want to play and the mindset we want to go into each game with and which individuals are capable of doing that.

“You won’t find that out unless you expose them to international cricket.

“The decision-making before the series was very much around giving opportunity to players on the edge of our squad to try and learn about what they are capable of under pressure.

“It is a really valuable exercise for us. Obviously every time we do it we are taking a risk in terms of win-loss but what we are hopeful of is the opportunities we are giving the players will generate brilliant coaching conversations and understanding where every player is at.

“We are a developing team. We have three teenagers playing for us at the moment, which is fantastic. But they will go away from this experience learning what they need to improve their game.”

Captain Athapaththu was the star of her side’s historic triumph and said a series result like this had been coming.

“I am really happy with my performance and my team’s performance,” she said. “The last two tours in Bangladesh and New Zealand, we have played really good cricket and we have carried that on.

“Finally we have won – that is really good. Hopefully we can carry on this form in the ODIs.

“My bowling unit have done a really good job and the last couple of months our bowlers have done really well.”

Chamari Athapaththu was again the star for Sri Lanka as they earned a historic Twenty20 international series win against England.

Athapaththu claimed figures of three for 21 as the hosts were bowled out for 116 before whacking 44 to fire her side to a seven-wicket victory, which sealed a memorable 2-1 series success in the decider at Derby.

The Sri Lanka captain hit a half-century in Saturday’s win at Chelmsford and again brought the fireworks, plundering two sixes and five fours in her 28-ball innings.

It meant that England lost a T20 series to a team other than Australia for the first time since 2010, while also losing a first-ever white-ball series to Sri Lanka.

The opening ball of the match set the tone for England’s disappointing innings as Danni Wyatt slapped a gentle long hop straight to cover and it got worse after a calamitous run out at the end of the second over, where Maia Bouchier and Alice Capsey were both at the same end.

They never got to grips with Sri Lanka’s array of slower bowlers, with skipper Athapaththu taking three  wickets and Udeshika Prabodhani and Kavisha Dilhari both claiming two victims apiece.

Bouchier top scored with 23 while Danielle Gibson added 21 late as England failed to see out their overs.

Athapaththu came out firing and did the leg work of Sri Lanka’s chase in the first seven overs, hitting Kate Cross and 17-year-old Mahika Gaur over the ropes in an array of boundaries.

Her dismissal with score on 65 could have opened the door for England, but they could not make regular inroads and the visitors got over the line with 18 balls to spare.

England will have to defend a below-par score of 116 if they are to win their Twenty20 international series against Sri Lanka.

With the three-match contest tied at 1-1, the hosts were bowled out for a disappointing 116 after being invited to bat first in the decider at Derby.

They never got to grips with Sri Lanka’s array of slower bowlers, with Chamari Athapaththu taking three for 21 and Udeshika Prabodhani and Kavisha Dilhari both claiming two wickets apiece.

Maia Bouchier top scored with 23 while Danielle Gibson added 21 late as England were skittled in the 19th over.

The innings could not have got off to a worse start as Danni Wyatt planted a gentle wide delivery from Inoshi Fernando straight to cover.

The Sri Lankans were celebrating again at the end of the second over when a calamitous mix-up between Bouchier and Alice Capsey saw both batters at the same end, with the latter ran out.

Bouchier and captain Heather Knight did some repair work, sharing a 30-run stand in four overs, but that came to an end when Bouchier holed out to long-on.

Knight (18) and Amy Jones (20) soon followed as England slipped to 72 for five in the 11th over and it looked like they would struggle to get to 100.

But Gibson hit three fours in her 15-ball innings to get them to three figures before a flurry of late wickets saw them fail to see out their overs.

Scotland will stay humble as they look to battle past Cyprus and keep themselves in the driving seat to qualify for Euro 2024, according to former national team striker Charlie Nicholas.

Steve Clarke’s men are aiming for a fifth straight Group A win in Larnaca on Friday night, which, if other results go their way next week, could see Scotland’s place in the finals confirmed.

Nicholas, who played for Scotland at the 1986 World Cup in Mexico, believes Clarke will not allow any thoughts of having already booked a ticket to Germany next summer as his team focus on showing the required mentality in the heat of the AEK Arena.

“This is the first time I can ever recall being in a position of comfort in a group like this. It is a kind of weird experience,” Nicholas told the PA news agency.

“Steve Clarke’s business as a manager is being serious, so the boys will stay humble – and I do think they will get it tough in Cyprus.

“Now this becomes the most important one, because it would give us a really nice buffer if we were to win it, but it will be tight.

“It will be in the heat, which obviously doesn’t complement us, but we have put ourselves in a great position so we must not let it slip now.”

Scotland’s assistant coach John Carver has branded the current squad the “most focused group” he has ever worked with, having seen them beat Spain at Hampden Park in March and then win away in Norway.

Nicholas added: “Looking at these guys, what you have got is a lot of important players playing at top football clubs – even with Kieran Tierney’s move, it is to a top club in Spain (at Real Sociedad).

“There is a lot of knowledge in there and also with that desire – they will be told the whole truth when it comes to these qualifying games, because we are so close to it.

“If we go and win in Cyprus, that doesn’t guarantee us (qualification), but it more or less does – and in Scotland we have learned never to take too much for granted.

“They are a well-respected group with what they stand for together. There is no faking with these guys, they are bang on the money and know where they are trying to get to.”

On September 17, Nicholas will be joining broadcaster Jeff Stelling when he takes on a 34th marathon Football March for Prostate Cancer UK, from Wembley to Wycombe Wanderers, in honour of the late Bill Turnbull.

Former Celtic and Arsenal striker Nicholas lost his father, Chic, to prostate cancer, which affects one in eight men, in December 2009.

The Scot stressed the importance of early diagnosis, which brings with it more options for advanced treatments such as radiotherapy and better life outcomes. 

“I think we (men) are a bit afraid about it, because you don’t want to turn up at the doctors and think you are going to get bad news,” Nicholas said.

“It is scary and it is not nice to go and find out – but the thing is if you have symptoms, then just go and get it checked.

“Because if you sadly have got it and they can spot it early enough, that actually puts you in a good position. It might not sound like it, but you really are.”

:: Jeff Stelling’s Football March 2023 is sponsored by specialist cancer care provider GenesisCare. You can sponsor Jeff to honour Bill’s legacy and help beat prostate cancer via –

Argentina’s scrum may lack of the potency of old but Dan Cole insists it remains a significant threat to England’s goal of making a triumphant start to their World Cup.

Two sides who take pride in their forward dominance collide in Pool D’s highest-profile fixture in Marseille on Saturday, with the winners placing one foot into the quarter-finals.

Argentina’s last great scrum was 2015 when feared props Marcos Ayerza and Ramiro Herrera helped them reach the World Cup semi-finals, but more strings have now been added to the Pumas’ bow.

But tighthead prop Cole insists that with his Leicester-mate Julian Montoya present in their front row at hooker, they are still a formidable set-piece unit.

“It’s a force. Whether it’s the force of your (Martin) Scelzos, (Rodrigo) Ronceros and (Mario) Ledesmas….. But you still have Montoya, who I know brilliantly well,” Cole said.

“You look at their team in the Rugby Championship, they’re dangerous. If you have one scrummage where you are not fully focused they will do you damage and get stuck into you.

“They’re a dangerous team and they’ve grown their game in other areas. We know what’s coming up front.

“They love the physical contest. You speak to some of their front five – Tomas Lavanini when he was at Leicester and Montoya – and they relish the physical part of the game.

“Marcos Ayerza could talk for days about the scrum, both the physical and mental aspect of it.

“That’s the tradition of their game, we respect that and we look forward to playing them because that’s the game.”

Cole will be in the front line of resistance to Argentina’s forward assault at the Stade Velodrome as he prepares to take part in his fourth World Cup, either in the number three jersey or as a replacement.

The 36-year-old’s Test career appeared to be over until Steve Borthwick’s arrival as head coach offered a route back and he made his first appearance since the 2019 final in the recent Six Nations.

England’s scrum was overwhelmed by South Africa in Yokohama four years ago and Cole appeared to have paid the price.


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“I didn’t think this would happen but now I’m here and I’m very happy and grateful to be part of it,” Cole said.

“It was a surprise to get the call from Steve because I hadn’t played for England for three years. I’d worked with him at Leicester but he didn’t give anything away.

“After 2019 and what happened in the final, I wouldn’t say it would have been easy to have packed it in, but it would have been easy to just drift.”

Borthwick names his starting XV on Thursday afternoon, with either Will Stuart or Kyle Sinckler joining Cole in the 23.

England’s head coach faces a difficult decision at scrum-half with no clear pick emerging from the trio of Ben Youngs, Danny Care and Alex Mitchell.

Manu Tuilagi is expected to be joined in the centres by either Ollie Lawrence or Joe Marchant, while two of Elliot Daly, Jonny May, Max Malins and Henry Arundell will fill the wing slots.

Levi Colwill’s amazing year shows few signs of slowing as the defender looks to make his England debut and prove his worth to Gareth Southgate with Euro 2024 on the horizon.

An impressive season-long loan with Brighton was followed by helping England Under-21s become European champions over the summer.

Colwill returned to Chelsea and was rewarded with an improved six-year deal, before going onto make his debut in their season opener.

The 20-year-old has been an ever-present under new Blues boss Mauricio Pochettino and his eye-catching displays earned a first formal England call-up.

“It has been an amazing year,” Colwill said.

“There have been a lot of ups and still been downs, and a load of stuff that I have had to overcome. But it’s all part of my career and you’re going to get that.

“A hundred per cent it’s all worth it in the end. You’ve got to keep working hard, that’s what I have done so far but now it’s about keep going.”

Colwill cited the initial lack of game time under Graham Potter and Brighton successor Roberto De Zerbi as examples of down moments he overcame.

But the success that followed on the south coast saw him brought in to train with the England senior squad in June, even travelling with them for the qualifier in Malta, before heading off on Under-21s duty.

“Coming and training in June was a big blessing,” Colwill said. “I enjoyed it so much and then obviously getting formally called up now is amazing.

“When I got the text I called dad straight away. I think he was getting emotional, to be honest. Dream come true.

“Everyone was so welcoming and it made a big difference for me.

“Now I have settled in a bit, I am ready to kick on and hopefully prepare for the upcoming week.”

Colwill is hoping to make his debut against Ukraine in Saturday’s Euro 2024 qualifier in Poland, or in the Hampden Park friendly against Scotland three days later.

The 20-year-old allayed fitness concerns ahead of that double-header after sitting out training on Tuesday, pointing to a tough previous week and the fact he is “a young boy still growing”.

Asked if making it into next summer’s Euros squad is a target, he said: “Of course. Playing for Chelsea – one of the biggest clubs in the world – it’s got to be my aim to hopefully be in the England team come the Euros.

“Obviously it’s still a long time until that comes so I’ve just got to keep working hard, pushing myself and let’s see what happens next.”

England have yet to mathematically seal qualification for Euro 2024, but it has long looked a case of when rather than if their place in Germany is wrapped up.

The uncapped Colwill already appears to have a strong chance of being involved – an opportunity that will only be bolstered by Chelsea boss Pochettino.

Adam Lallana, who the defender calls a key influence in his career, made his England debut at Southampton under the Argentinian, who his former Brighton team-mates had praised to the hilt.

Colwill took that on board when committing his future to Chelsea, where he is excited to develop under a manager with a fine track record of maximising English talent.

“I think the big thing for me was the first day I came in, him just putting an arm around me and showing me that he respects me as a person and also a player,” he said of Pochettino.

“That allows me to work my hardest and want to play my best for him.

“Just working under him in general, I know I’m going to improve. I can guarantee that because he’s such a good manager and he will push me. He won’t let me have any off days and that’s what I need.

“Someone like me, if someone lets me go to sleep I might just have a good day or a bad day. But I need someone there to give me that kick up my bum and say ‘keep going’ and that’s what he does.”

Kevin Sinfield has revealed Marcus Smith is still an option at full-back as England look to ignite their attack.

Harlequins fly-half Smith injected energy and creativity into England’s game when appearing as a second-half replacement in the World Cup warm-up fixtures against Ireland and Fiji.

Head coach Steve Borthwick on Thursday names his team to face Argentina in their crucial Pool D opener, with Smith under consideration as support for starting 15 Freddie Steward.

“Marcus is a magician with the ball – step off both feet, quick, can beat the opposition for fun,” defence coach Sinfield said.

“So why not try to give him a bit more time and space than he would typically get at 10, try to get him a little bit wider?

“We have been working on it for some weeks now with him in training. He’s been incredible at the back.

“He embraced it straight away. It was a question that was posed to him. Have you ever played 15? His first answer was ‘No, but I would love to’.

“It would be crazy of us to put Marcus in the team and not try to put the ball in his hands, and give him space to attack. He’s a different attacking threat to Fred.

“Fred is 6ft 4in and 105kg, so he brings a different threat to Marcus when he carries the ball.”

Jonny May has revealed that he confronted Steve Borthwick after his initial omission from England’s World Cup squad drew his “monkey out”.

May was told he would not be part of the 33 travelling to France in advance of the opening warm-up match against Wales in Cardiff yet would need to stay in camp for the three remaining fixtures.

The Gloucester wing was eventually offered his ticket over The Channel when Anthony Watson was ruled out of the tournament by a calf injury and he celebrated his return by touching down against Fiji.

It ended a rollercoaster month for England’s second highest try-scorer that began with him taking refuge in the gym when he had been given the bad news.

“The truth is that on the Monday before Wales, Steve spoke to me and said ‘as it currently stands you’re not playing at the weekend and aren’t in the 33’,” said the 33-year-old, whose son Jaxon was born in May.

“That got my monkey out, I’ll be honest. I was like ‘well what the hell am I doing here this week’. I felt like that in that moment. I’m not going and I’m not playing at the weekend, so why the hell am I here?

“I went to the gym for 10 minutes and then stomped back to him and said I need another chat.

“I said ‘I’m running this by you because maybe I don’t want to be here this week because why am I here? I’ve got my son at home’.

“He said he didn’t want me to go home because I’m next in and it doesn’t look good if you quit now and then have to be called back in.

“So I was like ‘fair enough, that was a good point’. And I’d done this much time now, just calm down and plough on with it. But that was my initial response.

“I was disappointed because I expressed in week one I wanted a game and an opportunity to play.

“It looked like I wasn’t going to get that and I felt like I’d worked hard and played well and trained well. I really wanted it.

“There’s no right or wrong way to tell somebody they’re not in the team and I understand that from Steve’s part. I reacted angrily but rationally.

“I didn’t scream and shout at him, but I’m glad I stayed and then the opportunity came to stay and train and then I calmed down.

“Then I looked at the bigger picture – I’ve done eight weeks away from home, what’s the harm in three more, trying to get a game and hang on in there?

“Then I’d have felt better than if I hadn’t, knowing I’d given it every possible chance.”

May has returned at a troubled time for England as they enter their pivotal World Cup opener against Argentina on the back of a dismal run of form that has produced five defeats in six Tests.

It means the Pumas are rated marginal favourites to triumph in Marseille on Saturday – a position May insists is being embraced by Borthwick’s squad.

“This time, we’re definitely underdogs. We’re still finding our way, we’re still finding our team, we’re still discovering ourselves,” May said.

“People would think Argentina are favourites for the game. People look at us as underdogs and I think people have written us off a little bit.

“We’re embracing that within this group and paying it as much attention as each person wants to, but ultimately focussing on what we’ve got to do, getting tighter as a group and believing a bit more each day.”

A one-man batting show from Jonny Bairstow was not enough for England as New Zealand sealed a six-wicket win at Trent Bridge to level the T20 series 2-2.

England captain Jos Buttler rested himself for the decider and would have been happy with what he saw as Bairstow smashed 73 from 41 balls at the top of the order, with six sixes and five fours to his name.

That conjured memories of his match-winning Test century against the same opponents at the same ground last summer, but after he holed out in the 12th over England ran out of steam as they slowed to 175 for eight.

Dawid Malan and Liam Livingstone both made 26 but neither were fully fluent as the Black Caps reasserted control with their spin contingent, who shared six wickets.

Meanwhile Harry Brook, whose hopes of forcing his way into England’s World Cup squad puts both Malan and Livingstone at some risk, could only manage four.

After finishing the England innings with five for 38 in the last five overs, New Zealand came out firing and made a confident pursuit to complete their comeback from 2-0 down with Buttler making an unexpected substitute’s outing behind the stumps after Bairstow reported a niggle.

Tim Seifert (48), Glenn Phillips (42) and Mark Chapman (40no) combined to take down England, who could not keep a check on the boundary count.

The pick of the home side’s bowling attack was 18-year-old Rehan Ahmed, making his debut on home soil after his rapid rise over the winter.

He was sharp and economical with two for 27 in his four-over allocation and also completed a run out, a timely reminder of his promise almost six months since his last England appearance.

The real business is now set to begin, with a ODI series starting in Cardiff on Friday in what represents a final warm-up for next month’s World Cup in India.

But England, whose evening ended with 16 balls unbowled as Luke Wood mis-fielded to gift the winning runs, will need to sharpen up.

Jonny Bairstow hammered 73 as he carried England to 175 for eight in their T20 series decider against New Zealand.

Bairstow was in bruising form at Trent Bridge, giving the Black Caps an unwanted reminder of last summer’s memorable Test century in Nottingham, nailing six sixes and five fours as he made the most of a 41-ball stay.

With England leading 2-1 at the start of this fourth and final match, Bairstow threatened to drag the game away from the tourists but his departure in the 12th over heralded a shift in momentum.

With captain Jos Buttler resting himself New Zealand snapped up four for 35 to chip away at the middle order and finished well as England managed just 38 off the last five overs. Six wickets fell to spin, with Mitch Santner claiming three for 30.

Bairstow began in electric form as he came out swinging and rendered his opening partner Will Jacks a virtual bystander.

The Yorkshireman, favouring the leg side, jabbed Matt Henry for six over midwicket, milked Santner’s first visit, then greeted Kyle Jamieson by twice heaving him over the ropes. When Tim Southee attempted to exert some contol with a fuller length, he was pumped over long-on.

Jacks, who would later nick Ish Sodhi for 16 to complete a quiet series, was confined to rotating the strike as his partner accounted for 43 of the first 50 runs.

No English batter has ever reached a half-century inside the six-over powerplay before but Bairstow came within two runs of the feat, all at a flamboyant strike rate of exactly 200.

With Jacks gone, Bairstow continued to carry the show, bringing up the England hundred by stepping back and lifting a Santner drag-down for his sixth six. He was gone next ball, looking for another big blow down the ground, but he had left a formidable platform.

England threatened to waste it somewhat as Dawid Malan and Harry Brook – the former in possession of a preliminary World Cup spot that the the latter covets – both failed to convince.

The Brook bandwagon has put pressure on the selectors since he was omitted from the provisional squad for next month’s tournament, but he made four from eight balls and was caught off a modest Sodhi delivery.

Malan made his way to a sluggish 26 but picked out deep square when he tried to pick things up against Santner in the 16th. Moeen Ali went the same way moments later as England threatened to fall away and Sam Curran also came and went quickly.

Liam Livingstone hit a couple of sixes as he chipped in 26 before Henry dismissed him with the closing ball of the innings, while Rehan Ahmed also cleared the ropes on his home international debut. But New Zealand finished strongly, keeping the total well below the predicted peak during Bairstow’s assault.

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