England v Costa Rica - story of the match

Manchester United forward Marcus Rashford is "free to play" for England and it is showing after his exploits against Costa Rica, according to global team-mate Danny Welbeck.

On the evidence of last night's performance, though, Costa Rica will find it very hard to repeat their heroics of 2014 when they reached the quarter-finals.

With Gareth Southgate at the helm - a manager who has matured into a serious worldwide head coach - there is a real belief among the current top players, coupled with a growing maturity and desire to do well. Make the impossible seem possible.

"He just wants me to go to out to enjoy it". They are at an age and have hunger, enthusiasm and no little quality so they can certainly keep improving.

"She is great and my family will always come first but we have got a big tournament to prepare for".

"No. But if I was in charge, they would".

With Kyle Walker's position firmly cemented on the right side of a back three, Southgate has good options in the wing-back areas which is a strong point in the squad.

While it remains to be seen if this situation will change over the course of next season, it's now been suggested by the Daily Mail that 20-year-old may have to go elsewhere - albeit on loan - in order to secure regular playing time and continue his development. Southgate acknowledged concerns about a lack of experience but claimed it was outweighed by the benefits.

"Going to this World Cup I think they can beat anyone but a feature of this young, inexperienced team is that they are going to be inconsistent".

Speaking to BBC Radio 5 live, Southgate said: "Marcus is desperate to do well and we said to him and all the players we were expecting mistakes to be made".

If optimism and openness alone could win games, England would breeze through the group stage on the basis of their performances in front of the media in the past week.

"We're asking them to open up quite a bit on their own feelings about things", Southgate said.

"We have all said from day one that with the ability in this squad, we are capable of beating any other team at the World Cup on our day".

"The way the boss has prepared this time has helped the lads". You get a closer connection. It gives you the chance to just completely forget about everything and when you come back you are refreshed and ready to get stuck into work. The average age of the 736 players - nearly 28 years - is the oldest in the tournament's history.

Despite an indifferent end to his club season with Manchester United, where he managed 13 goals in all competitions, Rashford scored a stunning goal past Keylor Navas for England against Costa Rica in a friendly.

  • Rosalie Stanley