France are not overly dependent on Kylian Mbappe, according to head coach Didier Deschamps.

Mbappe has been in sparkling form at the Qatar World Cup and is the top scorer in the competition with five goals from four appearances.

The 23-year-old's double in the last-16 win over Poland has taken his tally of World Cup goals to nine, as many as Lionel Messi and more than Cristiano Ronaldo.

World champions France are unbeaten in the 13 games Mbappe has started in major competitions – outside of penalty shoot-outs – and will be hoping that record continues against England at Al Bayt Stadium on Saturday, with a place in the semi-finals up for grabs.

Deschamps dismissed the idea France rely too heavily on the Paris Saint-Germain forward, who has now scored 250 goals for club and country.

"I'm sure England will have prepared to face Kylian as our previous opponents did, but he's in a position to make the difference," Deschamps said in a press conference.

"Even in the last match, he didn't show his top form, but he was still decisive.

"We have other players that can be dangerous as well, so that helps us not be over-dependent on Kylian.

"But Kylian is Kylian, and he has that capacity to make the difference in any moment."

A major talking point in the build-up to the game has been the match-up between Mbappe and England right-back Kyle Walker, who could play either in a back four or a back five in order to combat the France forward's threat.

France captain Hugo Lloris played with Walker at Tottenham and said Mbappe is putting the talk to one side.

"I think Kylian is preparing very well. Trying to ignore a lot of the talk about him, it's really not something he needs," he said.

"He's very focused on his objectives, individually and collectively. He seems very happy, playing with a smile on his face and seems very focused on the match ahead of us.

"That's how he's looked from the beginning of this tournament."

While the focus will be on Mbappe at one end of the pitch, England captain Harry Kane – who won the Golden Boot at Russia 2018 – could be decisive at the other, having scored his first goal of the tournament in the Three Lions' 3-0 defeat of Senegal in the round of 16.

"I only have positive things to say about Harry, he's very important for the team, club and for England as well," Lloris said of his Spurs team-mate.

"A real leader, an example for his team-mates, and he's a top player. 

"Harry's someone who is known all over the world – not sure I can add too much to what is known. Our focus will be on representing our countries."

France are struggling to see how Kyle Walker will stop Kylian Mbappe running rampant in Saturday's World Cup showdown with England.

The tussle down the French left has been characterised as the key battleground ahead of the quarter-final at Al Bayt Stadium.

Mbappe's electric pace, sublime dribbling skills and eye for goal have made him the standout player at the finals so far, and the leading scorer with five goals.

Manchester City right-back Walker is the oldest player in the England squad, but the 32-year-old is also said to be the quickest. As such, it falls kindly for manager Gareth Southgate that Walker should naturally be the man to keep an eye on Mbappe.

Walker said on Wednesday that stopping Mbappe will be "easier said than done", but he added: "I'm not going to roll out a red carpet for him and tell him to score."

France defender Youssouf Fofana will reluctantly applaud Walker if he keeps Mbappe quiet.

He pointed to French Ligue 1 clubs having previously all set out with game plans to handle the Paris Saint-Germain frontman, only to have those blown out of the water by the 23-year-old's sheer brilliance.

"It's all to his credit if he knows how to stop Kylian, but 19 other teams in Ligue 1 are still waiting for the solution," Fofana said at a France press conference on Thursday.

"The truth is out there, we'll see what happens. We have confidence in Kylian."

Fofana described England and France as being "quite close in terms of culture" and said Southgate's side possessed "incredible" individuals.

"We've seen it since the Euros, they're constantly progressing. It will be a great match," said the 23-year-old Monaco player.

As a teenager, with his career in limbo after leaving the French national football academy at Clairefontaine, Fofana delivered pizzas for a living while trying to forage for a way forward in his preferred career.

He needed to earn a crust, but doors soon began to open as Strasbourg gave him an opportunity, before Monaco came calling almost three years ago.

"When you leave Clairefontaine, there are doubts," Fofana said of that time in his life. "When there are doubts you have to move forward. You need money, I had to make some. It was the best way to do that while trying to follow my dreams."

Declan Rice is fit to play for England against France in their World Cup quarter-final, Three Lions team-mate Kalvin Phillips confirmed.

Rice missed England's training session on Wednesday because of illness, sparking fears over his ability to play against the reigning world champions on Saturday.

But Phillips, who formed a vital partnership with Rice in England's route to the Euro 2020 final, allayed any worries over the West Ham midfielder's availability.

"I believe Dec [Rice] is fit," Phillips told reporters at his pre-match news conference. "He's back in training and he's fine."

After playing such a vital role at the European Champions last year, Phillips has played just 40 minutes off the bench in Qatar, in part due to only recently returning from shoulder surgery.

However, Phillips insists he is ready to fill in if Rice does experience any problems against France, saying: "If something goes wrong then I'll be there and I'll do my best to be fit for 90 minutes.

"I want to play as many minutes as possible. Regardless of whether Dec is playing or I am, we'll do our best."

Another reason for Phillips' limited time on the pitch has been the emergence of 19-year-old Jude Bellingham, who has been widely praised for his excellent tournament displays at such a young age.

Asked whether he is enjoying the tournament less because of his reduced minutes, the Manchester City man insisted he was still happy, and also praised those preferred to him.

"I am still enjoying it. I am still having loads of fun," Phillips explained. "I'm not playing as much, which can be frustrating, but if you look at the players playing ahead of me and how well they are doing, I can't really argue.

"I just need to keep working hard and getting fitter and fitter and then make an impact when I come on and be solid when I come on."

Much of the talk in the build-up to England's quarter-final clash has centred on how manager Gareth Southgate will combat the threat of tournament top goalscorer Kylian Mbappe.

Phillips' City team-mate Kyle Walker is the man many feel will be chosen to deal with Mbappe, though the defender only recently returned from injury.

While Phillips lauded Mbappe's abilities, he is confident Walker will be up to the task of defending against him, adding: "We know he [Mbappe] is an amazing player and he has been one of the top players for the last few years.

"But if there was anyone I would like to put up against Mbappe, it would be Kyle Walker because he is an unbelievable defender and probably the only one that is quicker than him as well."

Raheem Sterling will rejoin England's World Cup squad on Friday ahead of the quarter-final against France after a whistle-stop trip home.

The Chelsea forward travelled to be with his family after an apparent burglary at their house that saw a number of valuable items stolen.

The 28-year-old was not involved in England's last-16 win against Senegal on Sunday, with manager Gareth Southgate saying Sterling was heading home.

An investigation has been launched by Surrey Police after the raid was reported on Saturday.

The force said there had been "no threat of violence... as the items were discovered stolen retrospectively".

The Football Association said in a statement on Thursday: "Raheem Sterling will return to England's World Cup base in Qatar.

"The Chelsea forward temporarily left to attend to a family matter but is now expected to rejoin the squad in Al Wakrah on Friday ahead of the quarter-final with France."

It may mean his return comes too late for Sterling to stand any chance of starting Saturday's game against the defending champions, given he has missed several key training sessions.

Sterling, who turned 28 on Thursday, has scored 20 goals in 81 senior appearances for England. He has one goal so far at this World Cup, netted in the opening 6-2 win against Iran.

Mark Wood returns to the England team in the only change for the second Test and Ollie Pope has been named as wicketkeeper-batter once again as Ben Foakes misses out.

Paceman Wood has recovered from an elbow problem and replaces Liam Livingstone, who suffered a tour-ending knee injury.

Pope took the gloves in a famous victory in the first Test at Rawalpindi Cricket Stadium after Foakes missed out due to illness.

Foakes was available for selection for a second Test that starts at Multan Cricket Stadium on Friday, but the man captain Ben Stokes regards as the best keeper in the world has not been included.

"The selection is just for this Test," captain Ben Stokes said on Thursday. "I'll still keep saying he's [Foakes] the best keeper in the world, so it must sound silly for us to not pick him.

"Adding Mark Wood into the side gives us a better chance of taking 20 wickets.

"We did say to Ben to not take this as anything for the future. We didn't have this on our radar until the illness he unfortunately had before the first Test. This is definitely no sign for his future."

Stokes revealed he has spoken to Ben Duckett about the possibility of taking over from Pope as keeper if he finds the demands of donning the gloves at batting at number too much during the match.

The tourists will be looking to seal a first away Test series win over Pakistan for 22 years.

England team: Crawley, Duckett, Pope, Root, Brook, Stokes, Jacks, Robinson, Leach, Wood, Anderson.

Harry Kane and Kylian Mbappe would be "completely compatible" as a strike partnership and Mauricio Pochettino would love to see it happen, he revealed ahead of England's World Cup clash with France.

Pochettino has coached both players, as boss of Tottenham and Paris Saint-Germain, and would love to work with Kane again one day, should the England captain seek to leave Spurs.

Argentinian Pochettino will be a neutral when England and France go head-to-head at Al Bayt Stadium on Saturday, but his experience of coaching the two chief goal threats on each side means he has a vested interest.

He says both Kane and Mbappe "genuinely love the game", unlike some players he has come across.

"They love to talk about football, they love to talk about tactics, they have brains that really understand football. And this is why I think it would be so good to see them playing together. They would be completely compatible," Pochettino said.

He predicted an "amazing" connection, but stressed: "Maybe it will never happen; when I was at PSG, I knew Tottenham would never want to sell Harry."

Pochettino is not working as a coach in this instant, but he is regularly linked with top jobs when vacancies arise, and he said that "maybe one day in the future, if I am at a different club, and if Harry has decided to leave Tottenham, maybe I would try to bring Harry with me".

He credits Kane as having "saved my career" with a free-kick winner for Tottenham at Aston Villa in November 2014, and recalled nurturing the talent of "an old-fashioned number nine" to become the multi-faceted striker the England skipper is now.

Pochettino told The Athletic he and his coaching staff helped Kane "to run, helped him to press, and to move into different areas, using different spaces on the pitch.

"So he was a player who could play in the box or outside it, because his capacity to understand the game is amazing. He senses what the team needs, and when it’s under pressure he can drop into midfield, to help the team to progress the ball up the pitch or to provide assists.

"And if Harry drops into those positions in the World Cup quarter-final on Saturday, it will be difficult for France to stop."

 

Pochettino says that "constantly" dipping into midfield duties can also be a problem for Kane, given it blunts his frontline threat, and urged him to prioritise his work inside the penalty area.

Mbappe is the World Cup's leading scorer with five goals at Qatar 2022, and the 23-year-old has been in revelatory form, bringing his peak PSG game to the international stage.

Although Mbappe might rub some up the wrong way with his showmanship and imperious personality, Pochettino says it is "impossible not to" have a big ego when a footballer is given such acclaim, and he stressed the former Monaco player is "arrogant in the right, in the best way"

Offering high praise, Pochettino likened Mbappe to the great Brazilian Ronaldo, top scorer at the 2002 World Cup for the triumphant Selecao.

"It's in that capacity to accelerate, the technique, to dribble past opponents and score," Pochettino said.

 

Ben Stokes says England are mulling sticking with Ollie Pope as wicketkeeper for the second Test against Pakistan which starts in Multan on Friday.

Pope stepped in with the gloves for the ill Ben Foakes in England's 74-run first Test win in Rawalpindi, making 108 in the first innings. Foakes was one of numerous England players hit by illness on the eve of the first Test but was unable to take his place.

Pope, 24, has made three centuries in 31 Tests but kept wicket for only the second time in his Test career in Rawalpindi.

If Pope retains the gloves, England could bring in fast bowler Mark Wood, replacing the injured Liam Livingstone, to bolster their attack which was burdened with a heavy workload in the first Test.

"We found ourselves in that situation and still picked a team that was strong enough to win. We'll consider all our options," Stokes said.

"I think there are a few different options we are going to lay out in front of each other, and try and understand what is the best option to try and win this Test match. Because we have got a few other factors that we have to contend with.

"That's the great thing about where we're at at the moment… As I said, we are going to have a conversation at some point about what we feel is the best route to go."

Beyond Pope's century, he had a mixed Test with the gloves, dropping a catch in Pakistan's first innings, while spurning an opportunity in the second innings with one wicket left.

Pope also pulled off a smart stumping to dismiss Zahid Mahmood along with an acrobatic one-handed catch down the leg side to dismiss the same player in the same innings as England pushed for victory.

Wood has only just returned from a long-term elbow injury, with Stokes adding his availability was "an added bonus".

Another factor impacting selection is the morning smog in Multan, which could delay the start of play, potentially shortening the number of overs available if there is bad light late in the day, like which occurred on four of the five days in Rawalpindi.

"We'll have a sit-down discussion and we'll find a way to pick a team which we find is best to win the game, with those two things: the start time potentially delayed and coming off early because of the light," Stokes said.

"We could end up having only 300-350 overs in the Test match. We might have to get even a bit more adventurous with what we do. We'll see."

Jos Buttler does not know if he will return to the Test fold for England, stressing his focus remains firmly on white-ball cricket ahead of next year's World Cup defence.

Having led his side to success in the T20 World Cup last month in Australia, the wicket-keeper-batsman will look to defend the 50-over trophy he won as part of Eoin Morgan's side in 2019 next October.

Buttler's commitments to the sport's shorter formats has seen him kept out of the red-ball game, having last played for the Test team in January.

With the World Cup now 10 months away, the 32-year-old is not ruling out a return, but says it is not a priority with his other commitments.

"We will wait and see [but] I don't know for the minute, to be honest," he told Sky Sports News.

"I am really enjoying what I'm doing at the moment, and getting the opportunity to captain the white-ball teams has been a great challenge and really enjoyable.

"The attention turns to the 50-over World Cup and trying to think ahead and planning how we tackle that tournament. We've had a couple of retirements from the side, some stalwarts in Stokes and Morgan.

"We've got to work out how we fill that hole and give guys the opportunity to take those positions up and look to build a balanced team ahead of the tournament."

Test skipper Ben Stokes has retired from the ODI format since succeeding Joe Root as red-ball captain, but has not ruled out coming back into the fold for the World Cup.

Buttler would not be drawn on whether he would reverse his decision, however, adding: "He's got lots on his plate captaining the Test team and obviously some exciting series coming up with the Ashes next year especially.

"We'll just plan ahead and give guys the opportunity and things will work themselves out naturally.

"I think over the next six to eight months, guys will perform really well and put their hand up and try to stake a claim for those positions."

Kylian Mbappe is France's "main weapon" but Adrien Rabiot insists Les Bleus are not dependent on the forward in their quest to defend their World Cup crown.

The Paris Saint-Germain star leads the goalscoring charts at Qatar 2022 with five to date, and bagged a brace as Didier Deschamps' side progressed to the quarter-finals with a 3-1 win over Poland.

That has set up France's toughest test of the tournament on paper in the shape of Euro 2020 finalists England, where the attacker will be looking to make a difference once again.

Despite having needed Mbappe to fire them forward on several occasions so far, Rabiot says he is not the only member of their squad who can help win games.

"There is no dependency," Rabiot stated. "He is our main weapon, but we also have other players who can make a difference in other ways.

"We count on him as on all the players in the group. Everyone needs to be good health to face England.

England's decision to sack head coach Eddie Jones nine months before the Rugby World Cup is "utter madness", according to former back-row James Haskell.

Jones' fate was confirmed on Tuesday following a review by the Rugby Football Union (RFU) into recent results.

England have endured their worst calendar year since 2008 in terms of results, having won just five of their 12 Tests in 2022, most recently going down 27-13 to South Africa.

Despite a disappointing year, however, Jones bows out with the best win rate (73 per cent) of any head coach in England's history, having won 59 of his 81 Tests at the helm.

Haskell, who played under Jones prior to retiring in 2019, believes the Australian should have remained in the position until his contract expired after next year's World Cup.

"Personally, I think it's utter madness," he told Sky Sports. "You've literally taken the most successful World Cup coach and binned him nine months before a World Cup.

"He's been to three World Cup finals [two as head coach, one as a technical adviser], he's won one [with South Africa as technical adviser, 2007] and lost two."

Jones led England to their first Six Nations Grand Slam in 13 years in 2016, then won the Six Nations tournament again in 2017 and 2020, while also reaching the 2019 World Cup final.

He won his first 17 games with England, which was part of an 18-game win streak overall, the joint longest of any Tier 1 nation.

 

The 62-year-old will be replaced by forwards coach Richard Cockerill on an interim basis, with Leicester Tigers head coach Steve Borthwick the favourite to take over permanently.

"The best thing is, the person [the RFU] want to replace Jones with at this point in time, and obviously it's an ever-movable feast, is not available," Haskell added. 

"So you're going to put someone else in charge for the Six Nations who hasn't been an international coach.

"All because of some grumpy old journalists, and miserable fans, who decided to gang up to get rid of him. It's pretty much the story of the modern world."

Borthwick worked alongside Jones with Japan and England before taking over at Leicester in 2020 and guiding them to the Premiership title last season.

While Haskell questioned the decision to replace Jones, fellow former England player Ugo Monye has backed Borthwick to succeed if he is appointed.

"If he is the man, I think it is a great appointment," Monye told Rugby Union Weekly. "We don't have nine months to experiment, we have nine months to nail our identity.

"He gets it. He understands the personality of the game at the domestic level, what the players want, what the fans want, it feels like a necessity to connect all that together."

Ibrahima Konate is relishing the chance to see Kylian Mbappe and Kyle Walker's battle up close and personal when France face England in the World Cup quarter-finals.

Les Bleus are into the last eight after victory over Poland, with Didier Deschamps' side now set to take on Gareth Southgate's Three Lions, one of the few unbeaten sides left at Qatar 2022.

Forward Mbappe, who sits atop the Golden Boot standings with five goals to his name, has been the form player at the tournament so far.

But he will face arguably his toughest test yet in England right-back Walker, with Konate looking forward to seeing the pair square off.

"Walker and Mbappe are two very great players," he said. "Walker is one of the best right-backs in the world, I cannot wait to see this battle.

"[But] it's complicated [to defend against Mbappe]. Kylian is impressive. Each year, he evolves and becomes even better.

"I don't know where he will stop. We are lucky to have him in our team and not against us."

Mbappe missed team training on Tuesday, instead completing routines inside away from the rest of the squad, sparking fears of a potential injury knock.

But Konate shut down such talk, suggesting instead it was a preordained decision as part of his post-match recovery process.

"It was a little recovery session, the day before we had a day off," he added. "I think he decided to stay indoors with the coach.

"There is nothing to worry about. We are counting on him as on all the players in the group. Everyone must be in good health to face England."

Kyle Walker will not "roll out a red carpet" for Kylian Mbappe as England prepare to face France in the World Cup quarter-finals on Saturday.

Mbappe is the tournament's top scorer so far with five goals in four matches, including a double in the reigning champions' 3-1 victory over Poland in the round of 16.

That win set up a clash in the final eight with England, giving Three Lions' manager Gareth Southgate a headache on how to best counter the threat of Mbappe.

Walker is the player many believe will be chosen to deal with the power and pace of Mbappe, with the possibility that Southgate will opt to play with a back five.

While Walker lauded Mbappe's talents, the Manchester City defender feels he is well-equipped to cope with the Paris Saint-Germain star.

"Of course I understand the focus and I understand what I need to do to stop him," Walker told reporters. "It's easier said than done but I don't underestimate myself.

"I've come up against some of the best players in the world but I have to treat it just as another game. You have to give him respect but not too much.

"I'm not going to roll out a red carpet for him and tell him to score. It's a World Cup, it's do or die.

"I'm not going home so I'm not going to let him ruin that for my family."

Other France forwards have impressed alongside Mbappe, such as Ousmane Dembele and Olivier Giroud, the latter of whom became Les Bleus' all-time record goalscorer with his strike against Poland, with Walker stressing the focus is not just on the PSG forward.

Walker says it is important England pay due attention to all of France's attackers, and not just Mbappe, adding: "It will be a tough game but a team cannot just be about one person.

"When we've [City] played Paris Saint-Germain in the Champions League, we're not just thinking of Mbappe and it's the same on Saturday. 

"He's a tool in their armoury - and a very good one - but you can't underestimate their other players.

"We know he's a great player and that's why he's the focus of all questions. But let's not forget Olivier Giroud who has scored lots of goals, Ousmane Dembele and Antoine Griezmann.

"For me all the questions shouldn't be about him [Mbappe]. I appreciate he's a great footballer, but there are others too."

At 32-years-old, Walker is one of the older members of England's squad, with young stars such as Bukayo Saka and Jude Bellingham playing a starring role in England's campaign so far.

Walker commended the Three Lions' new generation, reserving particular praise for Bellingham, who has lit up the tournament with his sparkling midfield displays at just 19-years-old.

"It is great for the English game," Walker declared. "As you mentioned, Jude [Bellingham] being one who has the courage to play for England that others didn't have when they were younger.

"They have no fear and they go in and express themselves. I feel the standard of players has gone up another level in this tournament."

Jude Bellingham has a "match-winning ability" that is taking his game to another level, according to England assistant manager Steve Holland. 

The Borussia Dortmund midfielder has been one of the Three Lions' standout performers in their run to the World Cup quarter-finals, where they face reigning champions France on Saturday.

Bellingham launched England's campaign with the opening goal in the 6-2 thrashing of Iran, before assisting Jordan Henderson during another impressive display in the last-16 win over Senegal.

The 19-year-old leads his team-mates for dribbles completed (six) and possessions won (23) in Qatar, while only Luke Shaw (72) has bettered his tally of 48 passes ending in the final third.  

Holland is well aware of the qualities and attributes possessed by top players following his time at Chelsea, where he served as assistant manager under the likes of Jose Mourinho, Antonio Conte, Rafael Benitez and Guus Hiddink, and England's number two believes those traits are evident in Bellingham.

 

"He's unique. When you're categorising really top players – I was lucky enough in eight years at Chelsea to experience a few of those – there are the physical attributes, there are the technical attributes," Holland said.

"My experience would be that what makes the top, top ones is the mentality – the self-belief, the confidence, the drive, the ambition every day to push and be competitive.

"There were a few at Chelsea during my time that I felt were always there every time in training – [Ashley] Cole, [Frank] Lampard, [Didier] Drogba, [John] Terry.

"There were others: players who perhaps weren't super gifted physically or even super gifted technically – although on a high level – but the mental aspect of it took them to a different level of performance.

"Jude has those attributes. There has been an evolution physically over the last 12 months. We watch every match he plays, either live or by going over the footage.

"We know him really well, and there has definitely been an evolution physically because he is still developing. It has taken him to another level.

"There are only three things you can do in football: stop goals, make goals, score goals. That's how you contribute.

"Jude can do all of those things and, recently, he has begun to score goals, which is the bit that makes the biggest players big. It's a match-winning ability that he is adding to his game."

Paris Saint-Germain president Nasser Al-Khelaifi has confirmed the Ligue 1 champions would like to sign England midfielder Jude Bellingham.

The 19-year-old Borussia Dortmund man has been one of the stars of this year's World Cup, with a host of European giants reported to be interested in signing him.

Bellingham scored England's first goal of the tournament in a 6-2 thrashing of Iran in the group stage, and produced another masterful midfield display in Sunday's last-16 win over Senegal.

The former Birmingham City man leads his team-mates for dribbles completed (six) and possessions won (23) in Qatar, while only Luke Shaw (72) has bettered his tally of 48 passes ending in the final third.  

His all-round ability has seen him touted as a contender to be named the young player of the tournament, and Al-Khelaifi admitted he would like to bring him to the Ligue 1 champions.

"Amazing player – what a player," Al-Khelaifi told Sky News. "England (are) lucky to have him, to be honest. He's one of the best players in the tournament. Amazing – his first World Cup. He's calm and relaxed, confident."

Asked whether PSG want to sign Bellingham, Al-Khelaifi said: "Everybody wants him, I'm not going to hide it. He's at his club, and respect, so if we want to talk to him, we'll talk to the club first."

Bellingham will next be in action on Saturday when England face France in a mouth-watering quarter-final clash. 

Kylian Mbappe was absent from France's training session four days before the holders face England in a World Cup quarter-final.

The leading scorer in the tournament, with five goals from four appearances, was in the recovery room on Tuesday when his team-mates trained at the Jassim bin Hamad Stadium.

Mbappe had been troubled by an ankle injury before the tournament started in Qatar.

The Paris-Saint Germain man has shown no signs of being hampered, lighting up the tournament and putting himself in pole position to claim the Golden Boot.

He scored two superb goals in a 3-1 round-of-16 win over Poland on Sunday, having also helped himself to a decisive double in a victory over Denmark and found the back of the net in an opening win over Australia.

Mbappe has also provided two assists for the defending champions.

Al Bayt Stadium will be the venue for a huge last-eight showdown between Les Bleus and Gareth Southgate's side, who beat Senegal 3-0 to move into the quarter-finals.

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