England football team: Harry Maguire is expected to start in a back three for England against Italy at the San Siro tonight.
The Manchester United captain has been selected just once by his club since his role in the 4-0 defeat by Brentford. However, England manager Gareth Southgate wants to back his players.
“Look, obviously, it’s not an ideal situation,” Southgate said. “You want your best players to play regularly so that they are in a good place physically and good place mentally. But he is an important player for us. I think it is important to back our best players. “
An injury to Jordan Pickford could give Nick Pope a chance in goal, while Southgate confirmed Jordan Henderson will not feature against Italy, meaning Jude Bellingham is set to start alongside Declan Rice in midfield. Harry Kane will start up front.
After tonight’s game in Milan, England host Germany at Wembley next Monday. The Germany fixture is the last match for Gareth Southgate’s men before they begin their World Cup campaign against Iran in November.
In the wider Nations League squad, Ivan Toney has been called up after scoring five goals in seven appearances for Brentford this season, including a hat-trick against Leeds United earlier this month. His form has convinced Southgate that he deserves a chance to prove himself ahead of the Qatar World Cup.
Elsewhere, Dan Henderson, Eric Dyer, and Ben Chilwell have been recalled. Manchester United duo Marcus Rashford and Jaden Sancho have had no such luck, however, with Arsenal’s Ben White and Chelsea’s Conor Gallagher also missing out.
Explaining the thinking behind his selection, Southgate said: “It’s a bigger squad than usual and the reason for that is that we’re so close to the World Cup and we feel, even though our results have been disappointing in the summer. There were, but we were selected based on form and ability over a long period of time.
“There were a few players we wanted to include this time, but that doesn’t mean it’s the end for some of them who aren’t. For example, Marcus Rashford has shown some motivation recently. He is a player we know well so if he can perform at a high level over the next few weeks he will certainly be considered.
Who will England play next?
The national team will face Italy at the San Siro, followed by a home match against Germany at Wembley.
When are the matches?
Italy vs England kicks off at 7.45 pm on Friday 23rd September. The match against Germany is also on Monday, September 26 at 7.45 pm.
How can I watch the match on TV?
Channel 4 has the rights to all England’s Nations League fixtures.