London: England are determined to get past the group stage at the World Cup in Russia but the main target is to “inspire the nation,” the Football Association’s technical director Dan Ashworth has said. England finished bottom of their group at the last World Cup in Brazil and suffered a humiliating defeat by Iceland in the last-16 at Euro 2016. “There isn’t a set, ‘we must get to round X or Y’ for it to be a success,” Ashworth said of the June 14 to July 15 World Cup, where England are grouped with Belgium, Panama and Tunisia. “It’s a knockout tournament, which is always really difficult because you can get to a certain stage, be a bit unlucky but play well, a sending off … and you go out of a tournament earlier than you hoped or expected,” he told BBC.
“So there isn’t a set ‘we must reach that round’ but we want to inspire the nation, we want to inspire our supporters.” When asked whether Southgate’s future hinges on whether England progress to knockout stage, Ashworth said: “We haven’t got into that level of detail. “Gareth’s got a contract through to 2020 – we and he hope he’s still here to lead us into what is pretty much a home Euros now in 2020.” — Reuters