England won't be popular in Russia - Gareth Southgate

AMSTERDAM -- England manager Gareth Southgate has claimed he has "little interest" in the comments of UK Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson about the World Cup in Russia, but has admitted he fears that his team will be unpopular at this summer's tournament due to political tensions between the two countries.

Johnson suggested England fans should be wary of travelling to Russia this summer and agreed with a claim that the competition could see President Vladimir Putin "glorying in this sporting event" like Adolf Hitler at the 1936 Olympics.

Suggestions that the England team could be forced to withdraw from the tournament by the British government have been dismissed. But Southgate, speaking in Amsterdam ahead of Friday's friendly against Netherlands, insisted that Johnson's remarks would not affect his preparation for the tournament.

"It's of little interest to me what the foreign secretary thinks about it," Southgate said. "I spoke to the players a couple of days ago and there's no suggestion we won't go to the tournament.

"The thing that's uppermost in our mind is security and safety and there are no concerns about that.

"I was in Russia for the Confederations Cup last year and there were about 15,000 fans from Chile there, it was an incredible atmosphere in the stadiums.

"The training grounds and facilities were excellent. It felt like other World Cups I've been to in terms of experience within the stadiums and atmosphere for games."

Southgate accepts, however, that the political fallout between the UK and Russia will not help his team this summer.

"I don't think we're going to be the most popular with the way things are going at the moment," he said. "But I've been used to that over my career with different teams, maybe that can be an extra motivation for us.

"I've spent some time in Russia and felt incredibly comfortable there. Everyone has an individual level of what they want to do and what they're comfortable with.

"The situation is developing; I don't really know what that's going to be like in June. What I know currently wouldn't stop me going."

Liverpool midfielder Jordan Henderson, captain in the absence of the injured Harry Kane, insisted that the current situation will not distract the players or, in his case, prevent his family from visiting Russia this summer.

"As players we're not really thinking about it," he said. "We're focused on the games like always and preparing as normal as we have in past tournaments.

"At the moment everything seems pretty good [security wise for them and their families]. My family want to go and be part of the World Cup.

"As a squad we've spoken about the security aspect. All seems fine so far but whether that changes down the line we'll have to wait and see."