It wasn’t seamless but England got the job done on Saturday night as Gareth Southgate’s men just inched out Switzerland 2-1 in their first match of 2022. Attention remains in the capital next week, but the focus shifts to Ivory Coast, who have already been eliminated from CAF’s World Cup qualifiers.
The Three Lions face the second of their two international brush-ups this month as Southgate seeks to re-calibrate his chess pieces and assess the options available to him with the winter World Cup fast approaching. Qatar’s unprecedented showpiece is just over half a year away now.
Goals from Luke Shaw and a Harry Kane spot-kick got the job done against an already-qualified Switzerland, who finished above Italy in Group C, but Ivory Coast should be an equally stern examination, with France recently requiring a 92nd minute winner from Aurelien Tchouameni to win a tight 2-1 contest on Friday night.
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England vs Ivory Coast: Match Stats
Southgate is expected to make a number of changes, and that could see the introduction of Jude Bellingham from the off. The burgeoning Brummie is still only 18, but one of the key protagonists of Borussia Dortmund this season, and the England boss will be desperate to get him firing on all cylinders at international level with the World Cup fast approaching. Incredibly, only Trent Alexander-Arnold (11) and Jarrod Bowen (eight) have provided more assists than Bellingham (seven) of any England player in Europe’s top five leagues this season. With the likes of Kane and Raheem Sterling ahead of him, Bellingham could have a playmaker field day if given the nod.