Date: 23rd September 2022 at 1:10pm
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England face Italy on Friday evening, hoping to return to winning ways after a disastrous run of games over the summer. 

Gareth Southgate’s side lost to Hungary twice and drew with both Italy and Germany shortly after the end of last season, and they now have only two games remaining before the World Cup kicks off in November.

The Three Lions boss named Ivan Toney in his squad for the two fixtures, giving the Brentford striker his first senior international call up, but there is precious little time remaining for those not included to prove to Southgate that they deserve a place in the squad for the World Cup.

Here, we take a look at the XI that Southgate could select for the trip to Italy.


Everton shot-stopper Jordan Pickford missed out on a place in the squad due to injury, but will more than likely return to reclaim his starting spot for the World Cup. In his absence, Nick Pope looks likely to make his first England appearance since keeping a clean sheet against Ivory Coast in March. Aaron Ramsdale and Dean Henderson are Southgate’s other options.


Southgate is spoilt for choice at the back having selected no fewer than 12 defenders in his 28-man squad. Kyle Walker could once again be used at centre-back, a role he has been deployed in previously for England. Next to him, Eric Dier could make his return to the England team having not been named in a squad since 2020.

Maguire has been dropped by Man United boss Erik ten hag of late

The back three could be completed by Harry Maguire, who was included in the squad despite having not started a single one of Manchester United’s last four league matches. Marc Guehi and Fikayo Tomori will most likely be on the bench.


On the right, Reece James could be used as a wing-back ahead of Trent Alexander-Arnold, with the Chelsea man having fulfilled the role more than his Liverpool counterpart, who plays as a right-back for The Reds. The two will be vying for the starting spot in Qatar, along with Kieran Trippier, who played key roles at both the 2018 World Cup and Euro 2020.

Bellingham could be in line to start against Italy

In the middle, Jude Bellingham looks almost certain to start off the back of a superb start to the season. The Borussia Dortmund midfielder scored against Manchester City in the Champions League last week, and looks increasingly likely to have cemented his starting spot at the World Cup.

Declan Rice is the most likely candidate to partner Bellingham, with Jordan Henderson having joined the squad late as a replacement for Kalvin Phillips. Henderson himself has only just recovered from injury and may not be risked on Friday.

On the left, Bukayo Saka could operate as a left wing-back. The Arsenal star was named England Men’s Player of the Year on Friday, and the 21-year-old already has 18 senior caps to his name.

Ben Chilwell and Luke Shaw may be named as substitutes.


Kane needs just four more goals to surpass Wayne Rooney’s men’s scoring record

Harry Kane will lead the line against Italy, hoping to add to his tally of 50 goals for The Three Lions. The Tottenham striker needs just four goals to leapfrog Wayne Rooney and become the leading scorer for the men’s team.

On the left, Manchester City’s Phil Foden could be handed a start. The 22-year-old has two goals in 16 appearances for England since making his debut in September 2020.

On the other flank, Raheem Sterling looks likely to start. Foden’s former City teammate has started his Chelsea career strongly, scoring three times in four home games for The Blues, and was also England’s top scorer at Euro 2020.

Predicted XI: Pope; Walker, Dier, Maguire; James, Rice, Bellingham, Saka; Sterling, Kane, Foden

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