Cobblers boss Dean Austin believes England have got what it takes to go all the way and win the World Cup ahead of tonight’s semi-final showdown with Croatia.
Gareth Southgate’s men have surpassed all expectations going into the tournament, beating Tunisia and Panama to qualify from their group before a much-changed England side were narrowly beaten by Belgium in the final game, landing them on the favourable side of the draw.
A rare and dramatic penalty shoot-out victory over Colombia followed before Harry Maguire and Dele Ali netted in a 2-0 victory against Sweden on Saturday, which set up tonight’s huge clash with Sweden at the Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow.
The Cobblers will be out in Spain when Sunday’s grand final comes around but Austin says they’ll take time out of training to watch it, especially if England do the business tonight and set up a meeting with France, who overcame Belgium on Tuesday.
He said: “We’ll be watching it, especially when we win it! I think they’ve got a great chance, I really do. I think they’ll win tonight.
“Gareth has gone a great job with the way he’s tried to implement things and how he’s gone about it. Having known him for a while back, he’s a fantastic guy and it couldn’t have happened to a nicer fella.
“He’s brought belief and some cohesion to a squad that wasn’t really functioning particularly well. They seem to have a real confidence and a buzz around the camp which is really important.
“With so many foreign coaches around, it’s also nice to show the world that us English people can coach!”
Former loanee Kyle Walker, who made nine Town appearances as an 18-year-old in 2008, has played a key role in England’s run to the semi-final, featuring in all but one of their games on the right side of a back three.
Current Cobblers striker Andy Williams, a recent addition at Sixfields, is also confident of success tonight, adding: “I think the best thing about the World Cup is the positivity throughout the nation.
Hopefully England do the job tonight and then we’ll get to see the World Cup final as a group which will be a good bonding exercise. I think we’re down to train at the moment but hopefully that’ll change!Cobblers striker Andy Williams
“In competitions gone by, even with the ‘golden generation’, people including the media in this country were too eager to hammer everyone whereas this time all I’m reading is positive things and positive messages and that’s being reflected on the pitch.
“Hopefully England do the job tonight and then we’ll get to see the World Cup final as a group which will be a good bonding exercise. I think we’re down to train at the moment but hopefully that’ll change!”