Gareth Southgate is urging his England side to end their semi-final hoodoo by beating Denmark and reaching their first final since 1966.
England have fallen at the penultimate hurdle at major tournaments on four occasions since winning the World Cup in 1966.
The galling World Cup semi-final defeat to Croatia three years ago was the latest but Southgate believes his side have learned from that disappointment ahead of Wednesday night’s encounter.
“We’ve knocked off so many hoodoos or perceived barriers already and I feel like this group of players will feel this is just the next challenge,” the England manager said.
“I guess the interesting part for us is we won’t feel totally satisfied if it’s just a semi-final for us, whereas maybe three years ago, although there was massive disappointment after the semi-final, there was a feeling we’d come a long way.
“Now we’ve replicated what we did there, but that won’t be enough to fulfil the group. That’s a positive sign.
“The other thing that is so positive, these young players – 18, 19, 20, 21 – are getting more experiences of England that are positive and enjoyable and they’re feeling what it can be like to be in an England shirt and have fun and win matches and have a relationship with the fans that is positive.
“That’s so important for a generation to come. We’ll get more out of their talent if we can keep that relationship with the fans.”
A key difference to 2018 is heightened expectation, with Southgate himself admitting their benchmark in Russia was to end England’s 12-year wait for a knockout victory.
The former defender now has more knockout wins than any England manager in history and will go looking for another in Wednesday’s semi-final bolstered by a boisterous partisan crowd of 60,000-plus.
“It’s great to be coming back now,” said Southgate, who expects teenager Bukayo Saka to return to training on Monday after missing the Ukraine match with a slight knock.
“To go and have that different environment, preparation, focus was definitely helpful.
“But now to be coming back to Wembley is a great thing for us.”
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