World Cup: Southgate relishes England’s ‘biggest test’ against France
Kane and Saka both scored while Foden assisted their two goals (Getty)

England manager Gareth Southgate has said meeting France in the World Cup quarter finals is “the biggest test” but believes his team will relish the “fantastic challenge” of facing the reigning world champions.

England eased past Senegal with a 3-0 defeat of the African champions setting up a last-eight match with Didier Deschamps’ side. England have not beaten France at a major tournament since the 1982 World Cup and Southgate said their depth of talent stretches beyond Kylian Mbappe, the tournament’s top scorer on five goals.

It’s the biggest test that we face,” Southgate said. “They are the world champions. They have incredible depth of talent, outstanding individual players. They are very difficult to play against and score goals against. So it’s a fantastic challenge and a brilliant game for us to prepare for.

“The two quarter finals already in place [Argentina play the Netherlands on Friday] are fantastic, historic football rivalries, with great games from the past. It’s a brilliant game for us to be involved in and test ourselves against the very best.

“[Mbappe] is, of course, a world-class player who has already delivered big moments in this tournament and in previous tournaments, but [Antoine] Griezmann is now [on] 70 consecutive games for France and he’s also a phenomenal player.

Southgate's side now face France in the quarter finals (Getty)

We know Olivier Giroud so well and they have outstanding young midfield players as well, so everywhere you look they have an incredible depth in each position.”

Harry Kane scored his first goal of the tournament and Bukayo Saka struck the third after Jordan Henderson opened the scoring, converting a Jude Bellingham cross. Southgate believes Kane’s 52nd goal for England — he is now one off equalling Wayne Rooney as the all-time record scorer — brought a relief to the 2018 Golden Boot winner.

You could see the lift that gave him in the second half,” the England manager said. “For any striker when you haven’t scored it is in the back of your mind and you get that lift when it comes. It was great. There’s nobody I’d rather have in that moment bearing down on goal and it was a really clinical finish.

'Sterling may not return to Qatar'

Meanwhile, Southgate also confirmed that Raheem Sterling is returning home from the World Cup after armed intruders broke into his home on Saturday night. The England forward missed the Senegal game and Southgate said it was unclear whether Sterling would return to Qatar for Saturday’s quarter final.

I spent a lot of time with Raheem this morning,” Southgate said. “You have days where events happen and you have to deal with them, so he’s on his way home and yeah, we’re obviously mindful of him being allowed space and his privacy respected. We don’t want to talk in too much detail.

“Of course it’s not ideal for the group ahead of a big game but it pales into insignificance because the individual is more important than the group in those moments, so we needed to look after the situation and then I had to pass that on to others this afternoon in order to get him home.”

Kane, the England captain, added: “Our thoughts are with him and his family. It’s a private matter but it’s never easy to see one of your teammates and friends deal with something like that. We’ll have to take it day by day.

“I’m sure Raheem will speak to the manager and take the best decision for him and his family. That’s the most important thing. We send him our best wishes and hope to see him as soon as possible.”