21 Mar Chance for fringe players to impress on road to World Cup
The road to Russia is well underway for Gareth Southgate and England, and players are running out of chances to impress the Three Lions boss.
A few of those ‘maybes’ will hope to strengthen their claim in two friendlies this week – the first coming against the Netherlands on Friday.
Our football betting expert has some tips ahead of the match in Amsterdam.
Experimental sides on show
While England will be getting ready for the World Cup, for the second tournament in succession, the Netherlands will be missing out.
Despite coming third at the World Cup in 2014, and runners-up in 2010, the Dutch have suffered badly since the departure of Louis van Gaal four years ago, sacking three managers, and seeing key players retire.
Make no mistake – this is an inexperienced Netherlands side.
Gone are the likes of Arjen Robben, Robin van Persie and Klaas-Jan Huntelaar, with just seven of the 25 man squad having over 20 international caps to their name.
Players from clubs as unlikely as Brighton and Crystal Palace make up Ronald Koeman’s first squad in charge since the departure of Dick Advocaat, as the former Everton man attempts to rebuild for the future.
Chance for fringe players to impress
While Southgate guided England through the qualifiers without much fuss, the real battle starts for the Three Lions boss – selecting a squad that can succeed in Russia.
In the likes of Dele Alli, Raheem Sterling and Marcus Rashford, England have the makings of a strong attack – and that’s not even including the injured Harry Kane, who misses this international break.
However, further back the pitch, and questions still remain – Southgate will need to decide on a goalkeeper, and the majority of his defence.
The added motivation for the likes of Harry Maguire, James Tarkowski or Alfie Mawson should see a more intense performance than the often-sedate friendlies England usually produce.
Having drawn against Germany and Brazil in their last two games, Southgate will be keen to actually beat one of the so-called bigger boys – and an inexperienced Netherlands side should be a good start.
Back an England victory at 15/8.
Vardy to have a party in Amsterdam
Jamie Vardy has been in fine form this season, scoring against each of the ‘big six’ teams in the Premier League.
With Kane out, he’ll get the chance to impress in England’s attack – and could add to his international haul that has already seen him net against Germany, Spain, and the Netherlands themselves.
Back the Leicester man to open the scoring at 6/1.