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Gareth Southgate commits to back three for England’s World Cup mission

• Southgate says formation will help England play out from back at Russia 2018
• ‘System gives us good stability and easier solutions for our midfield players’

Gareth Southgate has committed England to playing three at the back during next summer’s World Cup having identified the system as “a better option” and will use the friendlies over the next eight months to familiarise his players with the formation.

Although there is a risk to cementing plans around one formation this far from the finals, England did employ the tactic in Sunday’s unconvincing win in Lithuania and for the last few minutes at Wembley last Thursday against Slovenia when qualification was secured for the tournament in Russia. More significantly, the team mustered arguably their most impressive performance under Southgate using the system in the narrow friendly defeat by Germany in Dortmund last season.

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