Southgate and Kane hopeful of no repeat of racist abuse of players in Hungary
England begin their Uefa Nations League campaign today as they take on Hungary in Group A3. Germany and Italy are the other teams in England’s group so Gareth Southgate will want to kick off the Three Lions’ run with a positive result this evening.
The game was originally supposed to be played behind closed doors but the Hungarian FA have allowed 30,000 schoolchildren in to witness the clash after the hosts exploited a loophole against their punishment for racist behaviour. England beat Hungary in their World Cup qualifier on the road but drew at Wembley in their most recent encounter.
Southgate could potentially hand debuts to James Justin and Jarrod Bowen as four Nations League games will be played in quick succession, meaning changes to line-ups and personnel are expected to be commonplace over the next two weeks. The England manager’s main priority will be to utilise these matches to finalise who will be in his squad for this year’s World Cup, making performances more valuable than results in some cases as players stake their individual cases for inclusion. He’ll also be hoping England can keep up their recent record of challenging for honours in whichever competition they are taking part in.
Follow all the action as Hungary host England in the Nations League:
Joe Cole backs West Ham forward Jarrod Bowen to shine for England
The 25-year-old has shone for David Moyes’ Hammers this season and would have been called up by the Three Lions in March was it not for a foot injury.
Bowen scored 18 goals in all competitions and provided 13 more during a memorable campaign that is set for an unforgettable conclusion, having been included in the England squad for the first time.
Ex-West Ham star Cole is excited to see his debut in the upcoming Nations League fixtures and believes the former Hull man has the attributes to succeed at international level.
“For Jarrod Bowen and James Justin, I think it’s going to be a massive moment for them in their respective journeys,” he told the PA news agency.
“They’ve come a long way, Jarrod in particular. He’s come from Hull to West Ham and he’s been outstanding this year. He really, really deserves it.”
More here on the potential debutants:
Karl Matchett4 June 2022 15:26
Nations League provides crucial test for England with Qatar World Cup on horizon
England on Saturday start a mammoth international break, with a seemingly interminable four games, and yet the most important match will still be one they are not involved in.
Gareth Southgate’s squad will gather to watch Sunday’s play-off between Wales and Ukraine that decides the last place in their World Cup group. It will be welcome given the amount of down-time the players have over these two weeks, which is why it could also offer the opportunity to provide some education on the more problematic side of Qatar 2022.
It is fair to say that more than a few of them have been echoing Kevin De Bruyne’s comments asking why they have to face four matches at the end of such a long season. Some of that is because of the change to the calendar enforced by Qatar, but it also means that the World Cup – for all the charm of the Nations League – is what this break is really all about.
Its length represents that of a rugby-style international camp, so Southgate can properly work on what he wants, and any new ideas he might have.
Read Miguel Delaney’s full match preview here:
Karl Matchett4 June 2022 15:19