5 talking points ahead of England’s friendly with Switzerland
Gareth Southgate is keen to avoid a fourth successive defeat.
England will look to get back to winning ways when Switzerland arrive at the King Power Stadium on Tuesday evening.
Ahead of the friendly in Leicester, Press Association Sport’s Simon Peach looks at some of the key talking points.
The afterglow of reaching the World Cup semi-finals remains, with manager Gareth Southgate’s likeable manner and focus on progress helping to enthuse what had largely become an apathetic nation. But the push for long-term gain has brought short-term pain. Saturday’s 2-1 defeat to Spain in the UEFA Nations League opener leaves England looking to avoid four successive defeats for the first time in their history. Southgate rightly points to the fact that run includes a World Cup semi-final and third-place play-off, but they will be desperate to end that run against the Swiss.
ON THE ROAD AGAIN
After finishing their World Cup preparations at a bouncing Elland Road, the Three Lions are on their travels once more. Southgate is a strong believer that the national team should move around as it represents England rather than just the south. The fact tickets are still available at the King Power Stadium raises questions as to how much hunger there is in this part of the country, but the chance to see Leicester players like Harry Maguire, Demarai Gray and Ben Chilwell should bring some late sales.
Southgate had always intended to rotate his side for this match as it was important to repay players and ensure they get some minutes under their belts. Widespread alterations are expected from the Spain match, with Jack Butland to get the nod instead of Jordan Pickford between the sticks. Kyle Walker will be chomping at the bit after being left out of the line-up on Saturday, while Southgate faces a balancing act when it comes to who remains in the side. Uncapped goalkeeper Alex McCarthy will be hoping to get some minutes, while late call-ups Marcus Bettinelli, Gray and Chilwell are also hoping to make their debuts.
SWISS RUNNING LIKE CLOCKWORK
England are sixth in the FIFA world rankings after reaching the semi-finals in Russia. Switzerland were among the sides they usurped in the standings, but the fact Vladimir Petkovic’s men are eighth underlines the fact that they will not be pushovers at the King Power Stadium. Boasting Premier League names like Xherdan Shaqiri, Stephan Lichtsteiner and Granit Xhaka, they arrive in England buoyed by a dream start to the Nations League – a 6-0 drubbing of Iceland on Saturday.
KICK IT OUT
Tuesday’s friendly will be dedicated to Kick It Out – football’s equality and inclusion organisation. England manager Southgate and defender Harry Maguire had the logo on their shirts in the pre-match press conference, with the squad to warm-up wearing branded t-shirts on Tuesday. The players will enter the pitch alongside eight mascots nominated by Kick It Out, while the opening 25 seconds of the fixture will be broadcast in black and white to honour its 25th anniversary.