England set to start with an exciting midfield trio of Trent Alexander-Arnold, Declan Rice and Phil Foden against North Macedonia as Harry Kane is rested
by: Hani Kamal El-Din
England will test out a new-look midfield against North Macedonia tonight that will feature Trent Alexander-Arnold, Declan Rice and Phil Foden.
Three Lions manager Gareth Southgate has previously been criticised over his reliance on choosing a more defensive midfield but is set to take the handbrake off tonight.
Meanwhile, England captain Harry Kane is set to be rested for the European Championship qualifying clash, with Aston Villa star Ollie Watkins starting upfront.
Victory tonight will see England top their qualifying group – having already qualified for next year’s Euros – which will give them a more favourable group stage draw in the competition.
Southgate is focused on ensuring his squad produces a more inspired performance than their drab victory over Malta last week and is trialling a midfield with more creativity.
England will test out a new-look midfield against North Macedonia tonight that will feature Trent Alexander-Arnold and Phil Foden
Arsenal’s Declan Rice (pictured) will start alongside Alexander-Arnold and Foden in midfield
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Liverpool vice-captain Alexander-Arnold will start his second consecutive game in England’s midfield and will be hoping the added flair of Foden alongside him will create more opportunities than they managed against Malta.
Foden is usually deployed as a winger in the national team set-up but featured for parts of last week’s match in midfield and is tasked with doing the same again tonight.
Arsenal star Rice will be entrusted with acting as the more defensive-minded midfielder out of the trio as he often does for both club and country.
The unusual midfield arrangement means Jordan Henderson and Kalvin Phillips will most likely start on the bench, while Man City youngster Rico Lewis – who can play in both midfield and defence – will be hoping to make his senior England debut.
Regardless of tonight’s performance, it is extremely unlikely this will be Southgate’s preferred midfield for the Euros, given the temporary absence of Jude Bellingham.
The Real Madrid superstar has cemented his place in England’s midfield and will almost certainly start in the competition. He left the current Three Lions squad early due to injury.
England manager Gareth Southgate has opted for a new-look midfield against North Macedonia
England captain Harry Kane (left) has been rested tonight as Aston Villa striker Ollie Watkins (right) starts upfront
However, Alexander-Arnold, Foden, and Rice will want to prove themselves as the best midfield partner for Bellingham and can stake a claim tonight.
The same can be said for Watkins who has been given the nod to lead the line for England against North Macedonia in just his ninth senior appearance.
Watkins has starred for Villa in the Premier League this season by scoring six goals in 12 top-flight appearances for Unai Emery’s side.
The 27-year-old is widely viewed as the reserve act for Kane, with the England captain one of the most clinical strikers in world football.
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