Slovakia manager Jan Kozak lauds England players as 'future of football'

Slovakia manager Jan Kozak has labelled England’s emerging crop of youngsters as “the future of football” ahead of the teams’ World Cup qualifier on Monday.

England are two points ahead of Slovakia at the top of Group F and victory would put them on the brink of qualification for next summer’s tournament in Russia.

This group of players, however, still have it all to prove at major tournaments given many of them were involved in England’s miserable showing at Euro 2016.

But Kozak insists the likes of Dele Alli, Harry Kane, Marcus Rashford and John Stones should give English fans cause for optimism about the years ahead.

“This English side is very exciting, they have a great future ahead,” Kozak said. “There is a lot of talent there and these players are being given opportunities to get the experience they need.

“I like the current composition of their team and I think they are the future of football. Maybe they lack one more creative player to manage their play but overall it is a great squad.”

England supporters are seemingly still to be convinced, after they booed the team off following a goalless first half in Malta on Friday.

Four goals in the second period, however, including three in the final five minutes, made for an emphatic scoreline while Slovakia banked a 1-0 victory at home to Slovenia.

“England had the game under control all the time,” Kozak said.

“They had many chances, they just didn’t convert them. It’s very difficult to break down such a well-organised defence but they scored the goals, they won 4-0 and that win away is great.”

England will know not to take Slovakia lightly given they needed a last-gasp strike from Adam Lallana to win the reverse fixture 12 months ago, in what was Sam Allardyce’s one and only game in charge.

Their opponents are on a strong run of form too, having registered five qualification wins on the bounce while scoring 13 goals in that time and conceding just two.

Slovakia captain and former Liverpool defender Martin Skrtel could bump into some of his old team-mates at Wembley in Jordan Henderson, Daniel Sturridge and Raheem Sterling.

But Skrtel, who was sent off against England last time out for a stamp on Kane, insists there will be no love lost on the pitch.

“It will be a tough game and I’m looking forward to meeting my former team-mates but on the pitch there will be no friendships,” Skrtel said.

“The mood in the team is great after our latest win. We feel confident and hopefully we’ll get a good result.”

Kozak reported some minor knocks from the game against Slovenia but expected to have a full squad to choose from on Monday night.

Source: PA

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