The Lion issue waiting for Southgate to be resolved before Qatar – ST Sport Today

Boss Gareth Southgate, England, football, Harry Maguire, Ivan Toney earns his first call-up to the England squad this week, Jude Bellingham, Premier League, sport, UEFA Nations League, world cup
Boss Gareth Southgate has a lot to ponder ahead of the Premier League games against Italy and Germany

England have just two more games to play before they start their World Cup campaign against Iran on November 21.

The Three Lions face Italy on Friday night in Milan before hosting Germany at Wembley on Monday.

And time is running out for boss Gareth Southgate to flesh out his plans before selecting the final squad for Qatar.

Ahead of the trip to the San Siro, we take a look at what the England manager needs to achieve from these two exciting Nations League games.

Choosing a replacement for Jordan
Jordan Pickford would have been England’s No1 without question had he not picked up the injury two weeks ago – now that is questionable.

The Everton stopper may be fine for Qatar, but Southgate will need to use this window to figure out who will start if not.

Nick Pope is in good form in stopping shots, Aaron Ramsdale continues to look like a top notch goalkeeper and Dean Henderson is back on a regular basis for Nottingham Forest.

It would be surprising if different players didn’t start every game — and given Southgate’s desire for his goalkeeper to be good with his feet, it might mean something between Ramsdale and Henderson.

Dean Henderson and Aaron Ramsdale may have great chances to impress in Jordan Pickford’s absence for England

The good and the bad
It’s been a mixed bag at centre-back for Southgate – while Harry Maguire warmed the Manchester United bench, the likes of Eric Dier and Conor Coady have enjoyed a strong campaign so far.

But Maguire, 29, is a mainstay manager at the back, he has been a mainstay for the last four years.

The Yorkshireman needs to show he can step up to the plate for the Three Lions even when he isn’t playing regularly at Old Trafford.

Otherwise, Southgate will have little justification for playing him ahead of Coady, John Stones, Fikayo Tomori or Dier, whom he lauds after his first call-up in 18 months.

Southgate said: “With Eric Dier he has been playing well for a period of time. We think it is a very close call for our centre-back and he deserves to be re-elected in the group.

“We know how good a character he is. He fits into the culture and has international experience and great leadership qualities.”

Harry Maguire knows he needs to produce strong performances for England as he continues to sit on the bench for Manchester United

Choosing a left-right defender
England have more top-class right-backs than any other country in the world — but not the same on the left.

Luke Shaw started all but one of the Three Lions games at Euro 2020 but, like Maguire, has lost his place in the XI at Old Trafford.

His replacement at the tournament was Ben Chilwell, who has struggled with injury for the past 12 months and is not a definite choice in the Chelsea team.

Southgate will have to decide what to do if the situation continues over the next six weeks in the Premier League.

Kieran Trippier, who played on the left in England’s Euro 2020 opener against Croatia 15 months ago, may be given minutes during this window as a possible improvement.

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Jude Bellingham heatmap shows how much ground the Borussia Dortmund midfielder covers

Declan Rice will start in England’s midfield when they face Iran unless there is an injury.

But there were plenty of candidates to line up beside him.

And with an injured Calvin Phillips and an ill-fit Jordan Henderson, it’s time for Jude Bellingham to make the place his own.

The 19-year-old Borussia Dortmund midfielder is a prodigious talent and playing him alongside Rice would give Southgate a world-class engine room.

Decorated David Alaba from Austria recently said: “Regarding Bellingham as a player, I can say that he is one of the greatest midfield talents in the world.

“And that’s at a young age! At 19 years old, he leads the team, doesn’t hide and has already decided the game with his style of play.”

Reserves Kane can have

Ivan Toney earns his first call-up to the England squad this week

Having scored five goals in his first six Premier League games of the season, Ivan Toney is the only player called up to the squad for the first time.

Southgate said: “With Ivan Toney, we have been tracking him for a long time. I had a good chat with Thomas Frank about him last season.

“His form and quality – not just scoring goals but his technical ability, building play and aerial prowess – give us a different threat against some of the other players we could have chosen.”

Toney, 26, will be hoping to complete his rapid rise in the footballing pyramid and make the squad for Qatar as one of Harry Kane’s back-ups.

With Tammy Abraham the only other centre-forward with the Three Lions this week, Toney could book his place if he impresses.

Otherwise, Ollie Watkins, Callum Wilson, Dominic Calvert-Lewin and others would dream of forcing their way into Southgate’s plans.

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