July 10 (UPI) — England used a rubber chicken during a Tuesday training session ahead of its 2018 World Cup semifinal matchup against Croatia on Wednesday in Russia.
Dele Alli, Harry Kane, Raheem Sterling and several more of the team’s stars tossed the chicken around on the pitch, trying to hit each other with it and avoid being touched by it.
The squad used multiple chickens during the exercise stunt. One of the fake birds was red and another was blue.
It is unknown if the birds were a reference to France, who uses a Gallic rooster as a logo on its jerseys.
Reporters asked England manager Gareth Southgate about the chicken at a news conference following the practice.
“That’s exactly what I asked our fitness coach as well,” Southgate said. “What is that all about?”
“Our physical performance coach tries to keep refreshing the warmups for the players and keeping them stimulated. Just a bit of fun to get them moving in some of the mobility exercises.”
England battles Croatia at 2 p.m. Wednesday at Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow. The winner of that match battles France or Belgium. France and Belgium kickoff their semifinal matchup at 2 p.m. Tuesday in St. Petersburg.
The Three Lions advanced to the semifinals after beating Sweden 3-0 in the quarterfinals on Saturday in Samara. England last won the World Cup in 1966. The Three Lions had not advanced past the quarterfinals since finishing in fourth place at the 1990 World Cup.
Croatia is playing in its first semifinal since 1998.