Gareth Southgate is pleased with England’s progress despite a draw with the United States

Gareth Southgate is wary of the injured Wales but remains optimistic about England’s World Cup chances despite a goalless draw against the United States.

After enjoying a dream start to their run for glory in Qatar, the bravado and style displayed in Monday’s 6-2 draw against Iran were missed in their second Group B clash.

England knew they would qualify for the round of 16 with a game to spare if they beat the United States, but they caved in the Friday night lights and were perhaps lucky to go away 0-0.

Southgate’s men remain on track to progress to the knockout stages and know qualification is assured provided they avoid a four-goal defeat by neighbors Wales on Tuesday night.

Robert Page appears to have dashed Welsh hopes after their draw with the United States was compounded by Friday’s 2-0 win against Iran, but the England manager is expecting a reaction from them.

“Our first objective is to qualify from the group,” said Southgate after the standstill at Al Bayt Stadium. “We still have a little to do in this sense.

“But we are also in pole position to win the group if we can win next week’s match, and that has to be our aim.

“Obviously it will be a very, very tough match again. You know, Wales will be hurt by what happened today and we’ll have to give it our all.

“There are very few teams I’ve known over the years that get nine points in their group (because of) the different kinds of challenges you have to face and the different sides of your character you have to show, and tonight we had to show a different side .

If England win their group, they will face Group A runners-up – possibly Ecuador or Senegal – next Sunday at Al Bayt Stadium, which could also be the venue for potential quarter-finals and semi-finals.

Should Southgate’s side finish as runners-up, the Netherlands could await a showdown against the likely Group A winners at the Khalifa International Stadium on Saturday.

Whoever their opponents, England will need to up their game following Friday’s heavy display which left Southgate focused on the positives.

“When you’re in a World Cup, there are different challenges, different types of opposition,” he told talkSPORT.

“You’ll never navigate through games like we did the other day and I knew in the wake of that kind of performance the other day it’s very hard to reach that kind of height.

“So, today was a game where I’m really, really happy with what we did. I think the mentality was good.

There were boos at the full-time whistle, but Southgate wasn’t sure if they were aimed at him or his England team.

Whether or not they were, there was clearly frustration and bemusement from spectators at his slow move away from Plan A and the decision to leave the talented Phil Foden on the bench.

“I mean, I don’t know how soon you think it should be,” Southgate said of the changes.

“We decided to have Marcus (Rashford) and Jack (Grealish) switch wings.

“I didn’t think it was a game for Phil inside because a lot more defensive work, a very strong midfield you’re playing against. He doesn’t play it normally.

“The other day we hired him as a 10, but that’s not a role he plays at his club.

“So, there’s a reason for him being off the ball, but he’s a super player, we love him.

“But we thought Marcus’ speed and Jack’s ability to be able to grab the ball and buy fouls and get us onto the pitch at just the moment we needed some control in the game (it would help ).”

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