England vs Nigeria Preview
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As the World Cup approaches ever closer, England will undertake a brace of international friendlies before boarding their flight to Russia for their group stage games against Tunisia, Panama and Belgium (in that order). Nigeria are the first of these friendlies is against Nigeria who are 47th on the FIFA World Rankings have a tough group stage with Messi’s Argentina the biggest foes alongside a decent Croatian side and high flying Iceland. The Nigerian squad is brimming with attacking talent with the likes of Premier League stars Victor Moses, Kelechi Iheanacho and Alex Iwobi and could pose a threat on the counter against England.
|Henderson is still on leave after losing the CL Final
(Image from the Daily Star)
England are likely to have to face Nigeria without Manchester United defender Phil Jones as his partner is due to give birth at any point. England will also be without Trent Alexander-Arnold and Jordan Henderson who have been granted extended leave following their Champions League final loss to Real Madrid but Adam Lallana, who was also given leave, has come back early to train with the Three Lions. James Tarkowski has been ruled out of the World Cup with a hernia surgery lined up and there will be no replacement for the Burnley defender.
England are likely to play a back three in this game and test the water with their new formation and play with two forward players and three in the midfield.
GOALKEEPER: JORDAN PICKFORD
It is a coin toss between Jack Butland and Jordan Pickford as to who will start for England in Russia but for sure Pickford has better distribution than Butland and that could be a big help for the Everton shot-stopper. He has made crucial saves to send Everton out of the drop and into an eighth place finish and will look to show his worth in this England side.
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THREE CENTRE-BACKS: KYLE WALKER, GARY CAHILL AND JOHN STONES
While Gary Cahill has been accustomed to playing in a back three for just under two seasons, the other centre-backs are comfortable on the ball and willing to move wider to defend and offer space for the ball to be played into. Walker impressed when playing at centre-back against the Netherlands and Italy and John Stones is a natural ball playing defender and with Southgate’s coaching could be a vital part of this England side.
FULLBACKS: KIERAN TRIPPER AND DANNY ROSE
It is likely that Kieran Trippier will overcome his knee injury in time for the friendly and will be operating with Tottenham compatriot Danny Rose as the wing backs and should offer the width for England along with good crosses into the box for the forwards to get onto.
MIDFIELD THREE: ERIC DIER, DELE ALLI, JESSE LINGARD
With Jordan Henderson absent for England, it seems that Eric Dier will have the task of being the anchor in England’s midfield while Dele Alli and Jesse Lingard operate further forward and harass the Nigerian defenders. It was a coin toss between Loftus-Cheek and Lingard but the Manchester United playmaker has shown his worth for club and country and has earned his position in the squad. Dele Alli will need to step up in his performances or could lose his position to the likes of Henderson or Loftus-Cheek.
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FORWARDS: RAHEEM STERLING AND HARRY KANE
Both players have had fantastic seasons and have, like Lingard, earned their place in the starting XI. Sterling’s electrifying pace compliment’s Kane’s physical presence and target-man abilities. Kane scored 30 league goals for the first time in his career whilst Sterling also reached his highest tally he has ever reached with 18 goals in the league. They should pose a serious threat to any defence and are likely to start in the World Cup.
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