‘It was hard’: England opt to train at hottest part of day in World Cup buildup


England stepped up their acclimatisation programme in Qatar on Thursday by training during the hottest part of the day. Gareth Southgate’s players took to the field at their Al-Wakrah Sports Club base at 12.30pm local time with the temperature at 33C.

Conor Coady, a member of the squad’s leadership group, who said the players would discuss whether to take the knee before next Monday’s World Cup opener against Iran, described the session as tough but essential.

Wales, who England will meet in their final group match, set back their training by two hours to 4pm. The heat that the players must train in has been a concern since Qatar was awarded the tournament. The match stadiums are air-conditioned. England’s first session in Qatar had kicked off at 4.30pm on Wednesday with the temperature just below 30C. The switch to 12.30pm had long been planned. England will train at the same time on Friday.

Coady said: “It was hard. It was a long session and it was something we needed as a team to get used to it, to feel it, to understand it. I’m not going to say it’s not tough but we’re professionals, we understand what we are doing.

“It’s a different environment for us, it’s something we want to take on board as quickly as possible. Going out there and overthinking the heat or thinking it’s too hot will get us nowhere. Listen, we don’t get the sun too often back home so let’s enjoy it.”

The England squad are committed to pushing matters of social justice during their time in Qatar, although Coady said they had not yet spoken about taking the knee.

“I am sure it’s something that will be brought up in the next few days in terms of how we are going to go about Monday,” Coady said. “In terms of the meetings that we have had so far they have solely been about football.”

James Maddison was the only England player who did not train on Thursday. He is managing his workload as he recovers from a knee problem.