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Southgate urges England to be brave

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England's interim manager Gareth Southgate has called on his side to set pulses racing at Wembley on Saturday with an exciting, attacking style.

Southgate will lead out his country against Malta hoping to make headlines for the right reasons after the embarrassing exit of previous boss Sam Allardyce.

A home game against a nation ranked 176th in the world should present a relatively soft introduction, but he was clear that he wanted more than just three points from the game.

He has called for his team to be aggressive and gamble, if necessary, in a bid to showcase their skills.

"Above all I want players to be brave, bring the exciting things they have, the capabilities they have, to the table," said Southgate.

"One of the messages I've wanted to get across to the players this week is I want to see an England team that is brave in possession, willing to take chances, prepared to risk in one versus one chances even though they won't always succeed.

"They have the freedom to do that while I'm in charge, I've been very clear on that with all the young players in the system. I think this is a great opportunity for them to show what English players can do. I keep hearing what English players can't do but I've seen what English players can do.

"I want these guys to go and show it."

If that sounds like the manifesto of a man who intends to be around longer than the four games he has been assigned, then it should be no surprise. Southgate is bookmakers' favourite to claim the full-time post and knows first impressions count for a lot.

Speaking on the 16th anniversary of his final England appearance at Wembley, the former defender confirmed Wayne Rooney would captain the side and be joined in the starting XI by Arsenal's Theo Walcott.

Neither is expected to take the centre forward position vacated by the injured Harry Kane, with Daniel Sturridge and Jamie Vardy vying for that shirt.

Southgate seems set to follow in the footsteps of predecessors Roy Hodgson and Allardyce by using Rooney in a midfield berth he has not always excelled in and no longer plays for Manchester United.

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