Kyle Walker insists England’s players are as close as club teammates.
Former England stars Steven Gerrard, Rio Ferdinand and Frank Lampard this week cited club rivalries for their collective failure to live up to their potential at international level.
But Manchester City full-back Walker claims things are very different now, with manager Gareth Southgate fostering a togetherness he believes stands them in good stead ahead of next summer’s World Cup.
Walker, speaking through his partnership with Lidl, said: “It is weird, because it feels like club football now.
“You spend so much time with people during club football day in, day out and it feels like that because we have a group chat where there is always banter flying on there. We’re all together in the games room, playing pool, having a laugh and I think it is really bringing the squad together nicely.
“When Gareth came in he has put his own stamp on it, he has in his head how he wants it to be and for us it is working. Now it is just down to us to repay the faith that he has put into us.”
England will learn their group fate on Friday when the World Cup draw is held in Moscow.
After going out at the first hurdle four years ago having been drawn in the so-called ‘group of death’ with Italy, Uruguay and Costa Rica, Southgate and his players will be hoping for better luck this time.
But England’s relatively poor recent record means they will be in pot two and could be paired with the likes of defending champions Germany, Brazil, Argentina or France.
Walker insists England have learned from previous disappointments, most recently their Euro 2016 humbling by Iceland.
The 27-year-old said: “Every team going to a World Cup is going to be decent so you won’t get an easy group and, on the day, anyone can beat anyone, which we saw at the Euros, so we need to build on that experience.
“There was no other explanation other than that we were poor on that day and we need to put that right, get the fans back behind us, get the whole country back on our side and show the belief and the desire to wear the shirt and how proud we are to wear the shirt.”
Walker is set to play in a first World Cup finals having missed out in 2014 through injury.
He has been encouraged by England’s friendly draws with Germany and Brazil, when a number of young players made their debuts.
“I think it is refreshing how the young lads did,” he said. “It is something us senior players can take on board in how they just come in, play for their country like it is another game and show no fear.
“Against any team, to play in the World Cup, having missed out on the last one through injury, would be a special moment in my career and one to take with me and tell my grandkids about.”