Holland v England talking points
5 talking points ahead of the Three Lions’ meeting with the Dutch in Amsterdam.
England play the final away game before the World Cup in Holland on Friday.
Here Press Association Sport assesses the main topics up for discussion.
Dier’s defensive duties
Gareth Southgate has cycled through a procession of central defenders during his time as national boss, but is now reportedly ready to ask the versatile Eric Dier to move into the back three. Whether that represents a lack of faith in his specialists or a desire to involve a more creative presence alongside Jordan Henderson in the engine room, it is a big ask for the Tottenham man. A strong show in Amsterdam and he could find himself inked into the XI in a position he has barely played at this level.
Jack’s not back
We've arrived in the Netherlands, where Gareth Southgate has confirmed that @JackWilshere hasn't travelled – but the @Arsenal man remains in contention for Tuesday's game against Italy. pic.twitter.com/eDwwQ5pmWH— England (@England) March 22, 2018
In a sad but sadly familiar development, Jack Wilshere’s big international return has fallen victim of the Arsenal midfielder’s own fragile fitness. Pencilled in for his first appearance since Euro 2016, and a World Cup audition, he did not join his team-mates on the short flight to Holland. Whether he gets another opportunity is now down to a variety of variables – including his own impact between now and May, Southgate’s willingness to offer another chance and the success of those who feature in his absence this week.
Pickford or pick another?
The identity of England’s number one in Russia is, if anything, even less obvious than it was in 2010 when Rob Green, David James and Joe Hart were vying for the job. Hart has been undisputed first choice for most of his 75 caps, but his grip is loosening by the day after a poor season at West Ham. Jack Butland and Jordan Pickford are both coming up on the rails and have vocal admirers, while Southgate has thrown uncapped Burnley man Nick Pope into the mix at the eleventh hour. Pickford gets the nod this time and with it a chance to make himself the man to beat.
Are England ‘that Harry Kane team’?
When Pep Guardiola defined Tottenham by their prolific homegrown striker it was seen as a slight, but few within the England set-up would quibble with Kane’s status as first among equals. With his all-round prowess in attack they stand a puncher’s chance, even against better-equipped rivals. Without him, as they will this week due to an ankle injury, they appear rank outsiders. Having leaned heavily on his recent record of seven goals in his last six outings, England must show they have a plausible plan B before arriving in Russia.
Which Holland will turn up?
De laatste training voor de wedstrijd tegen Engeland. Ik kijk uit naar mijn debuut als bondscoach van Oranje! 🇳🇱— Ronald Koeman (@RonaldKoeman) March 22, 2018
Last training session before the match against England tomorrow. I am looking forward to my debut as head coach of the Dutch national team! #Netherlands #NEDENG pic.twitter.com/MaHzdVELdp
Having failed to qualify for the last two international tournaments and slipped to a lowly 21st in the FIFA rankings, Holland are at a crossroads. Their decline has been sharp and the star names fewer and farther between than at any point in recent memory. They do have a major name in the dugout though, with Ronald Koeman freshly installed following his sacking by Everton. He faces a major rebuilding job and will have to show he has not been scarred by his own struggles at Goodison Park. At least in England he is beginning against familiar opponents.