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Our England Starting XI vs Croatia

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Our England Starting XI vs Croatia

England’s Nations League campaign continues on Friday night, as the Three Lions look to avenge their defeat to Croatia from the World Cup semi-final. The two teams are just three months removed from their previous meeting in Russia, where the Croats came out 2-1 winners after extra-time as Gareth Southgate’s team fell at the final hurdle.

Southgate has picked a young and inexperienced team for this round of fixtures, as they also face Spain in their third game of the Nations League. There is plenty of excitement and intrigue to see what Southgate does with his side, with this being the XI we would like to see for Friday night.

England Starting XI

Goalkeeper: Jordan Pickford

In goal, there is virtually no dispute over who will start, with Jordan Pickford now established as England’s number one. Pickford was outstanding at the World Cup in the summer, firmly putting him as Gareth Southgate’s first choice. Jack Butland’s time in the Championship with Stoke has certainly held him back, while Alex McCarthy and Marcus Bettinellli are too inexperienced at this level.

Centre-back: Kyle Walker

The Manchester City defender was a surprise omission from the starting XI in the previous Nations League match against Spain, with Joe Gomez starting at centre-back. While Gomez was far from poor, Walker should return to the team, providing more experience away from home in this environment. Kieran Trippier’s delivery has left Walker to settle for his less favoured position, with him certainly being more suited to play as the wing-back.

Centre-back: John Stones

John Stones has established himself as the mainstay of the central three-man defence, being the man Southgate looks towards to lead their back three. He has been in excellent form when selected for Manchester City and is fresh off af an excellent individual display in his team’s 0-0 draw at Anfield. There’s no debating Stones’ role in this team.

John Stones Kieran Trippier England

Centre-back: Harry Maguire

Completing the Yorkshire trio of defenders is Harry Maguire, who has gone from strength to strength with Leicester City. He has continued the form shown in the World Cup in the Premier League with the Foxes, being an ever-present at the back and has left Manchester United fans tearing their hair out that they were unable to get him. His comfort on the ball suits the style Southgate is looking to implement and he seems to be improving as a player by the game.

Right wing-back: Kieran Trippier

It speaks volumes at how highly Southgate rates Kieran Trippier that he has continued to select him over both Kyle Walker and Trent Alexander-Arnold in this England team. The role of right wing-back is amongst the most competitive in the squad, but it is Trippier and his quality from set-pieces that makes him an automatic selection. He had his most memorable international moment against Croatia and will be hoping to repeat that on Friday.

Centre midfield: Jordan Henderson

The Liverpool captain appeared to change the outside perspective that many held against him during the World Cup, having been one of England’s most important players at the base of the midfield. With no Jesse Lingard, Ruben Loftus-Cheek or Dele Alli in this squad, we expect his role to change somewhat, with the midfield switching from a three to a two. Henderson is still the glue that keeps this team together with his energy and intensity and was impressive during Liverpool’s draw with Man City last time out.

Jordan Henderson England

Centre midfield: Harry Winks

Injuries prevented Harry Winks from really having a shout at going to the World Cup, but the Spurs midfielder will now be looking to take advantage of the misfortune of others. Nicknamed the ‘little Iniesta’ at Tottenham, there certainly are similarities between the two, with Winks possessing excellent poise and balance on the ball, with his technical ability exceeding that of Henderson and Eric Dier in the holding role. A strong showing over these two fixtures could help him break into the starting XI on a consistent basis.

Left wing-back: Danny Rose

With Luke Shaw out injured, Danny Rose looks set to start on the left flank and will hope to build on his display in England’s last friendly. Rose was the outstanding player during the side’s uninspiring 1-0 defeat of Switzerland at the King Power Stadium, laying down a marker for the level he has to consistently produce to be the starter in this team. Ben Chilwell is an alternative option, but so long as he is fit, Rose should get the nod.

Second striker: Raheem Sterling

It was so, so hard not to pick Jadon Sancho or James Maddison in one of the two free roles, but Raheem Sterling’s form for Manchester City makes it impossible to leave him out. Sterling has scored four goals and has two assists in seven appearances for the Premier League champions, picking up from where he left off last year. He is a favourite of Southgate’s and is amongst one of England’s most talented players - now we need to see it from him on a consistent basis at international level.

Raheem Sterling England

Second striker: Marcus Rashford

Over the previous international break, Marcus Rashford was only one of two players to start both of England’s fixtures against Spain and Switzerland, with the Manchester United man scoring in both. As such, we expect him to keep his place in the starting XI here ahead of the emerging talents of Sancho and Maddison. It’s often been a case of Rashford or Sterling in the England starting XI in recent times and it wil be interesting to see how England fare with two players with genuine pace in attack.

Striker: Harry Kane

The England captain is the first name on Southgate’s teamsheet, despite failing to score in each of his last five appearances for his country. Harry Kane looked jaded in the previous international break, but has discovered his scoring touch for Spurs, netting four times in his last four appearances in all competitions. Kane also has some demons to bury against Croatia, having hit the post with an unbelievable chance at 1-0 during the World Cup semi-final.

Harry Kane England Spurs Tottenham Hotspur