England v France: England really believe World Cup win is possible this time, Harry Kane says

Captain Harry Kane tells how England are in better shape than ever after learning lessons over the past four years

England have gone from strength to strength since the last World Cup and are more confident after reaching the final of the Euros, Harry Kane has said.

The Three Lions captain told a press conference the team has "a real belief and determination to be successful on the pitch", ahead of tomorrow's quarter-final clash with France.

The Tottenham striker said: “Looking back in 2018, we didn’t really know what to expect from the group. We went there with belief we could win it, but it was almost a new experience.

"We got to the semi-finals and everyone was over the moon, but whether we had full belief to go and win the tournament, I am not sure. “But we backed that up by reaching the final of the Euros and the belief has been growing.

“We lost in the Euros by a couple of kicks of the ball and we have entered this tournament believing we can win and it is about trying to push on. We go into the (France) game with more belief than we did in 2018."

Mee targeted Raheem Sterling's home in Cheshire. Credit: Mike Egerton/PA

Coach Gareth Southgate said the team are "very close" and have a "tremendous spirit", having had a lot of "shared experiences" together.

"The older players make it a comfortable environment for the younger players to come into. They set very high standards, but they also allow the younger players to settle in socially and allow them to be at ease with the group.

"I think that's why the young players come in and are able to express themselves. So it's a real collective and that's, I think, the strength of what we've got."

Southgate has a decision to make over what role Raheem Sterling will play against the French.

The 28-year-old Chelsea forward did not feature in the last-16 win over Senegal because of concerns over his family’s wellbeing following a break-in at his home in Surrey.

Three Lions coach Gareth Southgate explains what makes England's team gel together so well

Sterling flew back to the UK to deal with the matter, but has linked back up with England again in Qatar and was part of the 25-man group training at the Al Wakrah Sports Complex on Friday afternoon. “He will be involved tomorrow, but what that looks like I have got to decide," Southgate said.

England's manager insisted Kyle Walker, who had been a fitness doubt before the tournament, would be ready to shackle France dangerman Kylian Mbappe if required.

“We always wanted to give Kyle the opportunity to be fit, as he has been a very important player for us over the last six years. Kyle is ready," Southgate said of the Manchester City defender. Kane said he had not spoken to his Spurs teammate, France goalkeeper Hugo Lloris ahead of tomorrow's game.

“He is a really good guy, one of the best goalkeepers in the world,” he told reporters. “For a game like this, we are not friends for sure and go to have a good battle against each other.

"I have known him for a long time and can’t speak highly enough of him. I will enjoy playing against him if we win, but know he will be doing everything to make France win.”

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Giving credit to tomorrow's opponent, Southgate described France as "fantastic" and praised manager Didier Deschamps for creating a team that is "stronger than the individuals", adding that England will have to be on their "very best to win".

Southgate feels England’s run to the semi-finals of the last World Cup, and subsequent progress to the final of Euro 2020 last summer, can only stand them in good stead for the encounter at the Al Bayt Stadium. “In terms of our experiences, those big matches are important reference points for the team,” he said.

“There have been some defeats that hurt, that prepare you for nights like tomorrow where you have to be the very best version of yourself. We are ready to fight France for that place in the semi-finals.” Southgate maintained England do have a plan should the match have to be settled on penalties. On the prospect of facing club-mate Lloris from the spot, Kane said: “I am always someone who backs myself against any goalkeeper, and hopefully tomorrow I will be able to have chances to put away. “I know I have to be at the top of my game to do that. I try to prepare as well as I can and be free and let my instinct take over.”

Tune into ITV1 or ITVX to watch England v France at 6pm on Saturday