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Last 16 match against Slovakia chance for England to hit reset button

GELSENKIRCHEN, Germany : If England can get it right in the knockout round of Euro 2024, all the wrongs of the group stage will be forgotten, manager Gareth Southgate said on the eve of his team's last 16 game against Slovakia.

England was fortunate to land on the weaker side of the draw allowing them to plot a route to the final, but Southgate's men are in danger of blowing a dream opportunity if they cannot find a way to get the richly talented team to start performing.

Sunday is a chance to hit the refresh button.

"That is the reality. And of course we have to deliver it," Southgate told reporters on Saturday. "So the fact is you go into a different mental state, everybody knows that knockout football is jeopardy.

"Everybody knows that on a given day, an opponent can make it really tough for you. You know that the quality of the opposition left is high, and so it changes the mindset. It's about how far can we go? We're trying to achieve something exceptional."

England were not the only top team that struggled in the first round, with Belgium, France and the Netherlands also failing to impress.

England captain Harry Kane, who has scored six goals in his last six knockout games, was asked if there is a palpable internal shift once elimination threatens.

"Naturally, you get physically stronger and you get sharper as you play more games," said Kane, who scored in the team's 1-1 draw with Denmark. "Not just for me, but a lot of the players come into their peak sharpness at the knockout stage.

"This is knockout football now. These tournaments come round quickly and they go quickly. We are going to need a big performance. Less talking now, it's time to show what we can do."

Southgate has a squad in full health apart from Luke