Allardyce & Rooney all set for England's World Cup opener

Thursday 01 Sep 2016

England manager Sam Allardyce says he hopes his players will ‘do his talking for him’ when he takes charge of his first match today.

The Three Lions begin their 2018 World Cup qualifying campaign as they face Slovakia in Trnava at 5pm (BST).

Slovakia v England

2018 FIFA World Cup Russia
European Qualifiers (Group F)
5pm (BST), Sunday 4 September
City Arena, Trnava (Slovakia)
Live on ITV


And Allardyce, who was appointed six weeks ago, admits he will be nervous going into the match: “I think there will be nerves, yeah.

“Every new job you get, you feel nervous. You are hoping the players will do the talking for you and when they walk over the white line they deliver what we all want.

“That’s the big thing. I’ll be very nervous in the early part of the build-up to the game but once the game starts it sort of leaves me and the focus on the match comes in.

“I don’t hear the crowd around me. I just see how  the team is doing and see what I may to do.

“It’s been a great week for me,” continued Allardyce, who has been working with his players since Monday.

“The training has really been enjoyable – hopefully it goes as well on the pitch as I’ve seen training.

“It’s the best job for me at this stage of my life. I couldn’t ask for anything better.

“The exciting thing for me is the quality and energy of the players and the selection process was quite difficult.

“What I’ve discovered straight away is that it’s harder to pick an international team. There are 23 quality players.”


FATV rounds up the pre-match press conference in Trnava

Wayne Rooney, too, stands on the verge of a landmark. Where this will be Allardyce’s first England game, it will be the captain’s 116th – a record for an outfielder in the senior men’s team and second only to Peter Shilton.

But the Manchester United wants those celebrations should be saved for another day. “To have played the second-most number of times for England will be great but tomorrow's about the team and trying to take three points.

“I'm sure that, one day in the future, I will look back but I'm looking forward to the game and that's it.

“The last game for us was Iceland and it ended in great disappointment, so it’s important to get back out there. After the [2014] World Cup, the first game back against Switzerland gave us a huge amount of confidence to go through the [Euro 2016] qualification campaign unbeaten and into the tournament.

“It’s a chance to do that again – to look forward rather than back. The players are looking forward.

“We’re a close group and we talk to each other every day. Since we’ve met up, it’s been about the game rather than looking back.

“You can always look back and wonder what might have been if we’d done things differently, but it’s not going to change. We have to look forward.”

By Jim Lucas in Trnava