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“Experimental England XI Fans Crave: Kane Rests, Maddison and Toney Start vs Ukraine”


England’s Euro 2024 qualifying campaign got off to a great start with a 2-1 victory over Italy in Naples, their first win over the Italians since 1961. Next up is Ukraine, and while England are seen as favourites for the clash at Wembley, there are suggestions that Gareth Southgate could give some of his squad players a chance to impress on home soil.

Southgate has already admitted that his main focus for the match will be securing three points to help with qualification for the Euros, meaning that he won’t be naming a weakened side for the sake of it. However, England have some excellent options.

One player who fans are desperate to see more of is James Maddison. While Leicester are embroiled in a relegation battle, the midfielder has really impressed with nine goals and five assists so far this term, leading fans to call for his creativity in the middle of the park.

Bukayo Saka simply has to start on the right flank thanks to his stunning form for club and country, while Phil Foden will be hoping to be named in the starting XI following his 12-minute cameo in Naples.

In attack, Southgate has a big decision to make. Harry Kane enjoyed a glorious night against Italy as he became England’s all-time top goalscorer with an effort from the penalty spot, leading to celebrations in the dressing room. While clearly supporting his teammate, Ivan Toney will be desperate to get in on the action as he awaits his first cap for the Three Lions despite receiving a call up prior to the World Cup.

The Brentford forward has been excellent this term, scoring 17 goals and providing five assists, leading Southgate to discuss his performances prior to the match. He told talkSPORT: “He’s here because we believe in him and we’re ready to use him. We haven’t brought another centre forward and he’s impressed us with the way he’s trained, the way he’s worked and his finishing looks really good. So he’s also in a very good moment that we won’t hesitate to use him.”

Rotation won’t be the order of the day for Southgate, meaning that John Stones and Harry Maguire could stay put in the centre of defence, however the left and right-back spots are up for grabs. Kieran Trippier has been wonderful for Newcastle this term, while with Luke Shaw suspended following his sending off against Italy, Southgate has hinted that Ben Chilwell could get a chance.

Declan Rice is growing in influence and even bagged a goal against Italy so he’s likely to start, while wonderkid Jude Bellingham can do no wrong at the moment, meaning that he’s bound to be given a chance to start under the arch at Wembley.

Aaron Ramsdale has been in stunning form for Premier League leaders Arsenal this term – in fact, some would argue that he’s been better than England number one Jordan Pickford, meaning that he could be given a chance to show what he can do in a competitive match.

Here’s how England could line up against Ukraine should Southgate decide to shuffle the pack:

GK: Aaron Ramsdale

RB: Kieran Trippier

CB: John Stones

CB: Harry Maguire

LB: Ben Chilwell

CM: Declan Rice

CM: Jude Bellingham

RW: Bukayo Saka

CAM: James Maddison

LW: Phil Foden

ST: Ivan Toney

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