'England aided by timing of 2022 World Cup' – Southgate's side will challenge in Qatar, says 1966 hero Hurst

A man who formed part of the only Three Lions squad to have tasted global glory believes another crown can be captured at the next showpiece event

England will be serious challengers at the 2022 World Cup due to the timing of the event in Qatar, says 1966 hero Geoff Hurst.

The Three Lions enjoyed a memorable run through the last global showpiece in 2018.

Gareth Southgate’s side reached the semi-finals in Russia, with that finish equaling their best run since lifting the trophy for the only time in the nation’s history.

An exciting young squad will look to build on that success, with a spot already secured in the Nations League finals, and Hurst believes a winter tournament could work in England’s favour.

He told FIFA’s official website when asked if he believes games in November and December could aid the Three Lions’ cause: “Yes, I do – November is the peak of the season for us.

“After starting in August, the players will be at their peak – they should not be tired – so I can only see a benefit to our country.

“Also, the resurgence of our national team in the last 18 months, at the World Cup and qualifying for the Nations League, beating Croatia and Spain and scoring five goals a game, it’s a really opportune time for us coming into this tournament.

“If we continue to improve and our young players get more experience, the signs are very good.

“It’s a very exciting time for our national team and coincides with the World Cup in three years’ time.

“I’m always very confident England are going to do well and I’m even more confident now with the timing of the tournament.”

Southgate has done a remarkable job since stepping up from the U21 ranks to become coach of the senior side, and there is a positivity around the England camp that has not been seen for some time.

Hurst added on the man at the helm: “It’s quite evident looking at the way the players play, the way they talk in the media and the way they celebrate goals that his management style is proving very effective. It’s something we haven’t seen for some time.

“One of the most important aspects of a sport doing well is the people at the top – the leaders.

“We were very fortunate in our time to have a great leader in Sir Alf Ramsey – he was instrumental in picking the right players and playing the right way. And Gareth Southgate seems to have a knack of doing that.

“What is amazingly different – and I often state I played in medieval times – is that what we’re seeing now is players playing for England who have hardly kicked a ball for their Premier League clubs, [Callum] Hudson-Odoi for example.

“I look back now and say retrospectively I should have been playing for England three years earlier, when I was scoring goals regularly for West Ham and winning the FA Cup and Cup Winners’ Cup.

“So it’s changed dramatically, but overall, Southgate’s managerial style and what he’s doing, and the way they’re playing, is just fantastic.”

England will be back in action on June 6 when taking on the Netherlands in the semi-finals of the Nations League, with Portugal taking on Switzerland in the other last-four encounter.

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