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Southgate’s taking nothing for granted

ENGLAND have built up a four-point cushion at the top of Group F but manager Gareth Southgate will not let his team take their foot off the gas in their bid to sew up World Cup qualification.

Jermain Defoe and Jamie Vardy gave the former Three Lions defender a 2-0 victory over Lithuania in his first competitive match since becoming permanent manager.

England are the only team in European World Cup qualification yet to concede a goal and are well in control of Group F.

Slovenia slipped out of second place after losing away to Scotland, with Slovakia usurping them after beating rock-bottom Malta.

England are favourites to win the group but Southgate is not expecting it to be so easy, especially with a trip to Scotland awaiting in June.

‘The group is in our hands, which is the most important thing,’ he said. ‘We still have a lot to do. The home games [against Slovakia and Slovenia] are the important ones for us in terms of direct opposition in positions two and three at the moment.

‘But we know what going to Scotland is going to be like and we have to go and play on a plastic pitch in Lithuania. There’s still plenty to do and we have got to keep looking to improve with every performance.’

England’s June 10 clash in Scotland is set to be as fascinating as it will be highly charged.

Harry Kane, Daniel Sturridge and Wayne Rooney will be hoping to return after missing the friendly in Germany and the qualifier against Lithuania — absences that enabled Defoe to complete an unlikely international renaissance.