Published: Wed, July 11, 2018
Sport | By Stuart Potter

Henderson hopeful on fitness for World Cup semi-final

Henderson hopeful on fitness for World Cup semi-final

"[Him and Ivan Rakitic] are two great players, everyone knows that, but hopefully we can do our jobs on Wednesday as a team and individuals and contain them".

Croatia coach Zlatko Dalic has only one real injury concern heading into Wednesday's World Cup semi-final in Russian Federation. - Croatia scored two headers in its last match against Russian Federation - only one of its previous 29 World Cup goals was scored via a header.

As for England, they breezed past Sweden 2-0 to seal their first World Cup semi-final appearance since Italia 90.

The manager, formerly the head of elite development and the under-21s coach, had played a key role in the Football Association adopting the England DNA blueprint after the awful showing at the 2014 World Cup, a strategy which championed best practice in scouting, coaching, development and preparation of young players, and which is reaping rewards.

Dividing lines have been drawn among Perth soccer fans as England's and Croatia's World Cup campaigns collide.

Right back Sime Vrsaljko limped off during the quarterfinal win over host Russian Federation and goalkeeper Danijel Subasic had a hamstring injury during extra time but remained in the match. Skipper Harry Kane is at the top of the race for Golden Boot with six goals.

Given Croatia had extra time and penalties to recover from, England should come into the game fresher and they also have the edge in previous meetings, winning four of the seven encounters, including a 5-1 victory in their most recent match - a World Cup qualifier in 2009.

However, Kane's partner in attack, Raheem Sterling, has pace to burn and England's totem will be on hand to benefit if that causes problems for the Croatians.

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Croatia, on the other hand, did not have easy wins this World Cup. The Three Lions are confident, and why shouldn't they be?

After making history with England's first-ever penalty-shootout win at a World Cup against Colombia, the Three Lions did what many of their predecessors would have failed to do-get through a quarter-final against a team of Sweden's calibre in relative comfort. Otherwise, England have no fitness issues going into the last-four. "We've talked about how important it is to have that spirit".

"We have seen how strong England are at set-pieces and we will have to do better because against Russian Federation we conceded a goal like that".

"I've played against Modric a few times, he's probably one of the best players I've played against", said Henderson.

But the England boss is well aware of the threat that Croatia pose in the centre of the field.

"We know our academies at club level are producing really good players, technically good players".

Monaco goalkeeper Subasic saved three penalties in Croatia's shootout win over Denmark in the round of 16, and another in the quarter-finals as the Vatreni dramatically ousted hosts Russian Federation on penalties.

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