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Gary Neville ramps up England optimism on eve of World Cup semi-final showdown with Croatia

England face Croatia in the 2018 World Cup semi-finals on Wednesday night, and Gary Neville believes that the optimism surrounding the team is certainly warranted.

Gareth Southgate’s side have navigated their way through the group stage and seen off Colombia and Sweden in the knockout rounds thus far as they’ve benefited from a favourable draw.

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Nevertheless, with a tight defensive unit and the potent presence of captain Harry Kane up front leading the way, confidence is undoubtedly growing within the camp that they can get past Croatia and face either France or Belgium in the final on Sunday.

However, the focus will be on Zlatco Dalic’s men first and foremost, as they have world-class players running through the side in the likes of Luka Modric, Ivan Rakitic and Mario Mandzukic.

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Neville is more than happy for pundits and supporters to believe in their chances of going all the way in Russia though and leave it to the squad to remain level-headed and focused on the task in hand.

“Let ourselves get carried away,” he told Sky Sports. “Why wouldn’t you get excited? Why wouldn’t you feel confident?

“If you’re asking me a question in a one-off final can we do it? I think we can do it. We should be grateful of the side of the draw we’re on and grateful for the spirit and performances they’re putting in. We should continue to show that belief against Croatia – we’ve got a real chance.”

With Croatia being dragged through back-to-back games which have been decided on penalties, it remains to be seen whether or not that is a decisive factor as fatigue could certainly play a part.

With belief growing in England’s chances, Neville has insisted that it’s perfectly fine for fans to be dreaming that the Three Lions could end their wait for their first World Cup crown since 1966.

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