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World Cup: How England will prepare for Tunisia

Tuesday 12 June 2018

Lee Herrington, senior lecturer in sports rehabilitation at the University of Salford, comments on England’s best approach to physical conditioning ahead of the World Cup.

"The England squad are looking in good shape before the World Cup and there appears to be a greater emphasis on the physical preparation than perhaps in the past.

From what we hear from within the camp, England will be playing more to their physical strengths than in past campaigns, which makes a great deal of sense. In past World Cups it’s fair to say we haven’t performed too well, with the head coaches focussed on preparing squads tactically and trying to create a‘way of playing’. Some might say trying to play a more like a continental team.

The fact is England already have a way of playing, which we see in the Premiership every week – high intensity, break-neck pace, with plenty of physicality, and it is possible that Gareth Southgate believes this style is something other teams can’t live with.


The coaching team appear to be looking for marginal gains over the opposition in physical strength, fitness and pace, which makes sense too as this could be regarded as not the most technically-gifted group England has produced.

From a point of view of preparing the players to not only perform but to avoid injury, I think we’ll see a lot of high intensity training from now until the first match against Tunisia on June 18.

Contrary to what some commentators say about fatigue, there is a lot of evidence to suggest that matching training to the actual physicality of a match is a sensible approach. Too many teams these days spend arguably too much time training tiki-taka methods in small-sided games, this though great for certain aspects of the game, such as for touch and technique, isn’t preparing players to have to run the length of the pitch (repeatedly), and they are not used to it.

It’s possible that the high incidence of injuries in training in recent years has influenced this trend, with players not being exposed to high intensity long duration running. Recent research evidence shows that regular exposure to physically demanding exercise makes for a more robust player and one who is more prepared to avoid the causes of injury."

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Gareth Hollyman, Senior Press & PR Officer (Science)

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