England players board flight to Hungary ahead of World Cup qualifier

Next stop, Budapest! England players board flight to Hungary ahead of Thursday’s World Cup qualifier as Gareth Southgate’s squad target victory in first match since Euro 2020 final defeat against Italy

  • England are back in action on Thursday night in World Cup qualifying action 
  • The Three Lions take on Hungary in Budapest, just seven weeks after Euro 2020
  • It will be England’s first match since the agonising final defeat against Italy 
  • Gareth Southgate and his players boarded the flight out of Birmingham today  

The England squad are on their way to Hungary ahead of Thursday night’s World Cup qualifier in Budapest. 

Gareth Southgate and his players, led by skipper Harry Kane, boarded the flight out of Birmingham on Wednesday afternoon ahead of the first of three games in six days, with games against Andorra at Wembley on Sunday and Poland in Warsaw next Wednesday. 

Thursday night will be England’s first game since the Euro 2020 final in July, when they succumbed to Italy in an agonising penalty shoot-out defeat at Wembley. 

England captain Harry Kane boards the flight out of Birmingham as the team head to Budapest

Jesse Lingard (L) and Raheem Sterling (R) were also amongst the travelling party to Hungary 

Goalkeeper Nick Pope (L) and midfielder Jordan Henderson (R) are in the England squad too 

The wounds from that loss remain raw but attention turns to building on their summer progress when resuming their World Cup qualification campaign tomorrow night. 

‘Obviously it ended in disappointment but the journey and the memories that we made, the smiles that we put on people’s faces were there for everyone to see,’ defender Harry Maguire said.

‘It was a great journey, obviously disappointment at the end to come so close to being European champions – a penalty shoot-out away – so we know we’re nearly there. We’ve got lots of things to improve on and, yeah, I think it is a big test, more mentally than physically. It’s one that us players have got to look after.

‘We’ve spoke about it and we need to be ready because we know it is going to be a tough test against Hungary. If we’re not ready mentally, we won’t perform to our best and we won’t get the result that we need.

Mason Mount (L) and Declan Rice (R) started the Euro 2020 final against Italy back in July 

Centre back Harry Maguire was named in UEFA’s team of the tournament for Euro 2020 

‘Of course the mentality of the squad will be tested and we need to overcome that and show what we’re about.’

Maguire was named in UEFA’s team of the tournament after making a stellar return from injury as England reached just their second ever major tournament final.

It was an unforgettable ride that came to a crushing end, which has led to criticism from some.

‘A penalty shoot-out defeat in the final of the European Championships is the finest of margins you can get,’ Maguire added. ‘We use it as more motivation.

Sam Johnstone (L) and Luke Shaw (R) smile for the camera as they board the plane to Budapest

The Three Lions will be back in action for the first time since the agonising final loss to Italy 

‘We don’t really read the negative energy. We stay positive. It’s a test for us as a group now to make sure that we bounce back from the disappointment, starting tomorrow with a good performance and a good result.

‘The only thing you can do is look forward to what you’ve got, what you can improve on, and where you can go in the future.

‘We know how close we are but we’ve still got a lot of work to do and a lot of improvement to be made and we’ll do that.’

Gareth Southgate’s side are targeting a smooth progression to the 2022 World Cup in Qatar 


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