England take on Ivory Coast on Tuesday to conclude their international break as preparations for the 2022 World Cup intensify (7.45pm kick-off, UK time).
Gareth Southgate’s experimental Three Lions got the job done on Saturday night as goals from Luke Shaw and Harry Kane edged Switzerland at Wembley. Ivory Coast should offer another stern examination in the capital as Southgate plans to ring the changes and get another vital 90 minutes to assess his squad.
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England team news vs Ivory Coast: Stones, Smith Rowe expected back
John Stones and Emile Smith Rowe were both forced to pull out at the last-minute against Switzerland with minor injury concerns. Man City’s ball-playing centre-back felt muscular tightness in the warm-up on Saturday which ultimately rendered him unavailable, and Ben White came in to deputise as a result. Smith Rowe meanwhile didn’t train with England on Friday and was kept on ice as a precautionary measure, but the 21-year-old could well return in time to feature here.
Shaw meanwhile will be itching to get more minutes under his belt after enduring a difficult season with Manchester United. The left-back has been a pillar of consistency for England, and that was evident again on Saturday as he restored parity for Southgate’s side, a manager whom he says he feels ‘especially wanted’ by.
“It is always important to feel like you are wanted. I think especially here I always feel that,” Shaw said following England’s 2-1 triumph.
“I am not saying I don’t at United but especially here, the way things are, I feel wanted and I enjoy my football. A big part of football is the enjoyment.
“Of course, it is hard to enjoy when we are losing and not playing well at club level. We have to face that and, of course, this season it has not been good enough so it is hard to enjoy.
“We have a lot to improve at the club but I am here with England so the focus is on that.”
Predicted England XI vs Ivory Coast:
- Pope; Maguire, Coady, Mings; Walker-Peters, Rice, Bellingham, Shaw; Grealish, Sterling, Kane. (3-4-2-1)
Ivory Coast team news vs England: No fresh concerns following France test
Wilfried Singo, Hamed Traore and Christian Kouame were all forced to withdraw prior to Ivory Coast’s clash against France, with Patrice Beaumelle’s side coming through that 2-1 loss at the Stade Velodrome relatively unscathed. Both Nicolas Pepe and Wilfried Zaha started for Les Elephants, so England’s full-backs could be in for a busy night. The latter has previously been capped at senior level for England, whom he represented twice in 2012 and 2013, but switched allegiances in 2017.
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Predicted Ivory Coast XI vs England:
- B Sangare; Aurier, Boly, Bailly, Konan; I Sangare, Seri, Kessie; Pepe, Haller, Zaha. (4-3-3)