Gareth Southgate declared England must improve on their poor record against Italy after the two nations were drawn together in a "tough" Euro 2024 qualification group.

The teams faced each other in the Euro 2020 final at Wembley Stadium last year, with Italy emerging victorious on penalties to win their first European Championship trophy since 1968 and deny England their first major title in 55 years.

The sides also met twice in the recent Nations League campaign, playing out a goalless draw at Molineux in June before Giacomo Raspadori gave Italy a 1-0 triumph in the return fixture at San Siro in September.

The Three Lions have not beaten Italy in six attempts since a 2-1 victory in 2012, and Southgate says that run needs to end.

"England's record against Italy generally is not very good," Southgate told Sky Sports. "So we've got to improve that.

"There's not too many surprises, they've changed the team a lot for all of those different matches.

"We know the quality they have, we know the depth that they have."

England and Italy have been drawn in Group C alongside Ukraine, Malta and North Macedonia, the latter of whom knocked the Azzurri out of the World Cup play-offs earlier this year, preventing the European champions from making it to Qatar.

Southgate acknowledged the overall difficulty of the group, adding: "It's clearly a tough draw, given the quality of the opposition.

"But we've had draws in qualification that have probably been a little bit more comfortable than that, although I'd have to say Poland and Hungary in the last qualifying group was particularly tough as well, so we're used to that.

"The draws are what they are, it's how you perform on the day."

England's T20 World Cup preparations are on track after an entertaining win by eight runs in the first match of their T20I series against Australia on Sunday.

Openers Jos Buttler (68) and Alex Hales (84) were central to England setting a commanding target of 209 in Perth, with their stand of 132 almost double that of any other partnership for either team.

No one else managed more than 13 for England, but Chris Woakes (13 not out from five) provided a late injection to help them pass 200 and set Australia a significant target.

Australia's response was valiant. David Warner (73) looked sharp, aided by Mitchell Marsh (36) and Marcus Stoinis. During the latter's 35 off just 15 balls, Australia looked to have turned the tide.

Mark Wood (3-34) was key to disrupting Australia's momentum as he claimed the scalps of Stoinis and Warner, though the hosts still went into the final over knowing 16 runs would seal victory.

Matthew Wade's (21) four at the start of the last over stoked hope, but Sam Curran ensured there was no dramatic late turnaround with two wickets in the space of three balls.

Hales a double threat

While Curran played an important part at the end and Buttler gave England's innings some real potency, Hales starred both with the bat and in the field.

Hales' match-high score came from 51 balls as he found a fine balance between power and composure to hang around until the 16th over, while he also made two catches.

Curran repays the faith

Having the ball for the final over was not only a show of faith, but also a real test for Curran – Australia's target of 16 at that point was hardly inconceivable.

But he held his nerve, eventually claiming two wickets and seeing England over the line in an exciting finish to the first of three clashes between the sides.

England have the opportunity to gain a measure of revenge on Italy for their Euro 2020 final defeat after the two nations were drawn together in Euro 2024 qualifying.

Italy beat England 3-2 on penalties after a 1-1 draw at Wembley in London on July 11, 2021 to win their first European Championship title since 1968.

Gareth Southgate's Three Lions had opened the scoring through Luke Shaw, but the Azzurri levelled via Leonardo Bonucci.

And spot-kick misses by Marcus Rashford, Jadon Sancho and Bukayo Saka proved costly for England, who had hoped to win a first major title in 55 years.

The two will tussle again – twice – on the road to Germany 2024 after being drawn together in qualifying Group C in Sunday's ceremony, which was held in Frankfurt.

Nevertheless, both teams will still expect to reach the finals given the top two in each group progress to the tournament - joining them will be Ukraine, North Macedonia and Malta.

It was North Macedonia who knocked Italy out of the World Cup qualifying play-offs earlier this year.

Group B is another standout after the Netherlands were drawn alongside reigning world champions France in a pool that also contains Republic of Ireland, Greece and Gibraltar.

Spain will be confident of plotting a way through Group A, which also contains Scotland, Norway, Georgia and Cyprus, though Belgium may face a slightly sterner examination after being grouped with Austria, Sweden, Azerbaijan and Estonia.

Qualifying is set to begin in March 2023 and conclude eight months later, with the winners and runners-up of each group going straight through to the tournament.

The remaining three teams will be decided in March 2024 via a play-off section, which will be made up of 12 group winners from the 2022-23 Nations League.

If a Nations League section winner has already qualified for Euro 2024, their play-off place will pass to the next best-ranked country from the same league.


Draw in full:

Group A: Spain, Scotland, Norway, Georgia, Cyprus
Group B: Netherlands, France, Republic of Ireland, Greece, Gibraltar
Group C: Italy, England, Ukraine, North Macedonia, Malta
Group D: Croatia, Wales, Armenia, Turkey, Latvia
Group E: Poland, Czech Republic, Albania, Faroe Islands, Moldova
Group F: Belgium, Austria, Sweden, Azerbaijan, Estonia
Group G: Hungary, Serbia, Montenegro, Bulgaria, Lithuania
Group H: Denmark, Finland, Slovenia, Kazakhstan, Northern Ireland, San Marino
Group I: Switzerland, Israel, Romania, Kosovo, Belarus, Andorra
Group J: Portugal, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Iceland, Luxembourg, Slovakia, Liechtenstein

Matthew Wade says a crushing defeat to England in the last T20 World Cup was a "lightbulb moment" for Australia as the two sides prepare to do battle in a three-match series.

England hammered Australia by eight wickets with 50 balls to spare in the group stage of the T20 World Cup last year, but Aaron Finch's side went on to win the title for the first time.

Australia opted to go with a longer batting line-up after that crushing loss rather than pick five bowlers and reaped the rewards, beating New Zealand in the final.

The holders start the defence of their crown on home soil against the Black Caps at the SCG on October 22, but before then they take on an England side who are among the favourites to dethrone them.

Wicketkeeper-batter Wade feels the manner in which they were dismantled by England was a "turning point".

He said ahead of the opening match of the series at Perth Stadium: "They destroyed us in the World Cup. It was probably a turning point for the way we go about playing T20.

"We had to start to go a little bit harder, especially towards the top and then back end it with seven batters. We stuck to that formula after they destroyed us in the World Cup.

"So we're looking forward to playing them and see whether our game style [continues to work] – since then [it] has changed a little bit and hopefully we can go blow for blow with them.

"We've got seven batters now – we played six batters for a long time … but now we've got the power and we've got the depth of batting that I think you need to go with a team like England. You need to be able to score 200 to beat them on their day."

Captain Jos Buttler returns for a calf injury to lead England and Test skipper Ben Stokes is back after missing the 4-3 series win in Pakistan, but Liam Livingstone (ankle) remains sidelined.

England have won four of the past five T20Is between the two fierce rivals, but Australia have been victorious in seven of the last eight contests on home soil.

 

Smith in the spotlight

Australia completed a 2-0 whitewash of West Indies at The Gabba on Friday, but Steve Smith missed out once again as he fell for 17.

The former captain has not scored a T20I half-century since November 2019 and could do with some runs against England.

With Tim David having staked his claim for a place in the side and all-rounder Marcus Stoinis returning, Smith is in the spotlight.

Hales and Salt battling for opening berth

The return of Buttler at the top of the order means England will have to choose between Alex Hales and Phil Salt for the other opening spot.

Hales made a half-century in his long-awaited England comeback in the first match of the series against Pakistan, but fell for under 20 on three occasions.

Salt blasted a stunning unbeaten 88 from 41 balls in the sixth T20I in Lahore, but it remains to be seen if he will retain his place.

England captain Jos Buttler says he is "100 per cent" fit for the T20I series with Australia after recovering from a calf injury.

Buttler suffered the injury while playing in the Hundred in August and did not take part in England's series win over Pakistan.

But he returns on Sunday against world champions Australia, where they will play three matches ahead of the World Cup.

"I'm back to 100 per cent," Buttler said. "Had a good time in Pakistan rehabbing, probably could have played earlier, but with the World Cup around the corner, it was the right thing to do."

Buttler is expected to open with either Alex Hales or Phil Salt, and he is confident in England's batting capabilities.

"We have great options at the top of the order with guys in really good form in Pakistan," he added.

"They're both excellent options. Whoever I partner with will have a great go at it."

Buttler also revealed that Liam Livingstone is a doubt for the World Cup, starting later this month.

He explained Livingstone is "a little way off at the minute", saying: "Hopefully he'll get back to full fitness before the start of the World Cup."

Lothar Matthaus has urged England to start Jude Bellingham in every match at the World Cup in Qatar.

The Three Lions head to the tournament in poor form, failing to win any of their past six competitive matches, their worst sequence of results ever before a major tournament.

Questions regarding Gareth Southgate's first-choice XI remain, with the manager staying loyal to those who performed well in the 2018 World Cup and last year's European Championship.

However, Borussia Dortmund star Bellingham has worked his way into the side and started England's last three matches, with Bayern Munich and West Germany great Matthaus believing that streak should continue in the upcoming tournament.

"He's someone English football fans need to be hugely excited about," the 61-year-old Bundesliga television pundit told FourFourTwo.

"With his mentality, he's not somebody that needs to be treated as a young player who hopes for a few minutes here and there, he's a player who should be starting every match.

"He's becoming an important part of the national team and, in my opinion, he has the potential to be one of the best midfielders England have ever produced.

"I played against some pretty good ones myself and I see those qualities in him."

England begin their group stage campaign against Iran on November 21, then tackling the United States and Wales in Group B.

Brazil will be the number one side in the world when the Qatar 2022 World Cup starts next month, after strengthening their lead in the FIFA rankings.

The Selecao head into this year's tournament looking to break a two-decade hold by European nations on the sport's top prize, having been the last country from outside the continent to triumph at the South Korea and Japan 2002 finals.

Tite's side have slightly stretched their points advantage above second-placed Belgium, whom they displaced atop the list in March.

Brazil and Belgium head up an unchanged top five, with Argentina remaining at number three, World Cup holders France at four and England – who have endured a dismal 2022 – in fifth place.

The Three Lions will top the strongest group at Qatar 2022, Group B, when taken on points, with fellow nations the United States, Wales and Iran all ranked inside the top 20.

Italy, who are the highest-ranked nation not qualified for the World Cup, have forced the only move inside the FIFA top 10 as they head to sixth from seventh in a straight swap with Spain.

The Netherlands, Portugal and Denmark round out the top 10, with Germany just beyond them at number 11, ahead of 2018 World Cup finalists Croatia.

The lowest-ranked side at this year's tournament will be Ghana, who sit at 61st on the FIFA list, while hosts Qatar are in 50th place.

South Africa will host England in a rearranged one-day international series early next year.

The two sides were due to contest the three-match series in 2020, but England flew home following the Twenty20 International matches due to concerns about COVID-19.

Temba Bavuma's side will instead face the world champions at the Mangaung Oval in Bloemfontein on January 27 and January 29, with the series finishing at the Kimberley Oval on February 1.

The Proteas will also take on West Indies in two Tests, the first starting SuperSport Park on February 28 and the second getting under way at The Wanderers on March 8.

South Africa then face three ODIs and as many T20Is against the Windies before two matches versus the Netherlands in the 50-over format.

Cricket South Africa (CSA) chief executive Pholetsi Moseki said: "South Africa is fast becoming the home-soul for international cricket. We are a proud cricketing nation, with abundance of talent, grit, and temperament for the game.

"CSA is thrilled to be hosting England, West Indies and the Netherlands, all worthy opponents, in what is billed to be an exciting summer of international cricket.

"This is principally good news to our fans who have been starved of the blend of cricket on offer at stadiums since 2020 pandemic. These bumper fixtures confirm that cricket in South Africa is indeed open for business.

"As we look forward to hosting these cricketing powerhouses, we invite our fans to swell the stadiums in numbers to support the Proteas as they lock horns with the best in the world."

Gareth Southgate believes England have grown stronger as a result of their poor form ahead of the World Cup, as he pledged to stand firm on his selections.

England suffered a humiliating relegation from the top tier of the Nations League last month, finishing their campaign with three points – and no wins – from six games.

The Three Lions begin their World Cup campaign against Iran on November 21, and their six-match winless run is their longest such sequence going into a major tournament.  

Southgate was jeered by England supporters in the aftermath of a 1-0 defeat to Italy on September 23 and has been criticised for standing by Manchester United's struggling defender Harry Maguire.

Speaking at Monday's Legends of Football event in aid of Nordoff Robbins Music, Southgate accepted criticism of his decisions, but maintained he must sometimes resist "popular appeal".

"I think everybody in the country can see we're trying to accomplish extraordinary things," he said. "To accomplish extraordinary things is incredibly difficult. 

"This is a job where every decision, every selection is questioned, debated, ridiculed. That's just by my postman, by the way!

"Column inches are full, airwaves are filled. As a manager, you're not going to get every decision right.

"But I have to be strong enough to withstand popular appeal for something and do what I really believe gives us the best chance to win. 

"If you can keep your head when all about you are losing theirs, and blaming it on you. If you can trust yourself, when all men doubt you, but make allowance for their doubting too. That doubting, that noise that surrounds us is because people care. They're passionate. 

"They just want to win, and I understand that. And if we don't win for six matches, then quite rightly, I have to accept that criticism. 

"That's what goes with our job. If nobody cared or commented, then it wouldn't be the great and incredible challenge that it is."

England failed to score an open-play goal in their first five Nations League games, before coming from 2-0 down to lead 3-2 in last week's thrilling draw with Germany, but Southgate believes the team's poor run could benefit them heading to Qatar.

"Milan was painful. I knew walking over to our fans that it wasn't going to end well. But I wasn't going to take a backward step," Southgate added.

"I've enjoyed the warmth and the adulation, so you've got to ride with the discomfort as well.

"Against Germany, I think we showed what we're capable of, good and bad. It showed there is character there. As a team, I think we'll be better for that challenging period we've just been through.

"You wouldn't choose to go into a World Cup with the run of results we've had, but I actually think we're stronger for that and the players have had to take some ownership. 

"Those moments, like coming back from to 2-0 down and hearing the roof lift off Wembley, are hard to describe."

With England reaching the World Cup semi-finals in 2018 and finishing as runners-up at Euro 2020, expectations surrounding the Three Lions have undoubtedly risen.

"In seven weeks' time, I get to lead my country to another World Cup. We have players I'm proud to lead, who give us everything," Southgate said.

"We want to bring people together, create memories and history. I've said before the last two tournaments: if we can make people proud, we'll have had an amazing time.

"I know that the bar of what might be deemed success is raised and getting higher for us. But as a team, we have to focus on performance, and the rest will fall into place.

Former England captain David Beckham has backed the Three Lions to go all the way in Qatar, despite a woeful sequence of results this year.

Gareth Southgate's side head to the World Cup after failing to win any of their six Nations League matches and suffering relegation from the top tier of the UEFA competition.

That run is England's longest winless streak in almost 30 years, while it also marks the worst run of form the side has ever faced before a major international tournament.

Despite that and rising pressure on Southgate, Beckham believes England have the capability to win the World Cup for the first time since 1966.

"I will always say England. It's going to be difficult but the fact we are now going into a big competition like the World Cup, only playing 25 games in the season, player energy will be up, they won't be injured," he told Sky Sports.

"They've not played 60 games in a season, so I think they are going to be ready. We have a big opportunity.

"Gareth Southgate has done an incredible job with the players. The unity, which I think is a big part of it, we saw that in the Euros. My prediction is that, hopefully, England will go all the way, but it is not going to be easy."

England begin their campaign on November 21 against Iran, then facing the United States and Wales in Group B.

Mitchell Marsh will return to the batting order when Australia step up their T20 World Cup preparations against West Indies on Wednesday, captain Aaron Finch has confirmed.

Meanwhile, Marcus Stoinis is expected to return for Sunday's opening T20I against England, having joined Marsh in missing the recent tour of India.

Marsh has not featured since an ODI outing against Zimbabwe in August after sustaining an ankle injury, leaving Cameron Green to deputise throughout last month's 2-1 series defeat in India.

While Marsh will not bowl against the Windies, Finch believes a place at number three is his to lose, saying: "One-hundred per cent, he's made that spot his own in T20 cricket. 

"I think the way that he played in the lead-up and then through the World Cup [last year] is so important for the way that we want to play and gives us a lot of flexibility through that middle order.

"I think he had his second bowl yesterday and he felt really good. He pulled up well from it. So that's a really positive sign.

"I think for the balance of the side, it's better when they [Marsh and Stoinis] are both bowling because you can get caught a little bit short if you go in with five bowlers. But we'll work that out."

Having suffered a side strain in early September, Stoinis has not travelled to the Gold Coast for Australia's meetings with the Windies, but will join the squad in Perth for the first of three matches against England.

Finch is hopeful over Stoinis' fitness, highlighting the role of logistics in that decision as he added: "He's at a level where we think that he'll be fully fit for that first game against England.

"We were just conscious of the travel with a quick turnaround. It can be quite a high-risk game for some guys with some soft tissue injuries so he's just still planning and preparing there. 

"He's such an important part of our side and the make-up of it, especially with his bowling."

While Green performed well in India, recording scores of 62 and 52, Finch doubts whether he can force his way into Australia's 15 for the World Cup if Marsh and Stoinis stay fit.

"I don't think so," Finch added. "It's just one of those things. He had a really good tour of India. It was good for him to get an opportunity to open the batting.

"I think he'll get an opportunity at some point in this series. Obviously his batting is exceptional and he shows a lot with the ball. 

"He keeps improving every time he gets an opportunity but over the next few weeks, he'll get a run, no doubt."

Australia begin their World Cup defence against neighbours New Zealand on October 22

Dawid Malan propelled England to a series-clinching victory in the seventh T20I as Pakistan suffered a crushing 67-run defeat in Lahore.

After England posted 209-3, Pakistan made 142-8, showing dismally little interest in the chase after losing three early wickets. It meant Moeen Ali's tourists won 4-3 in their first series in Pakistan for 17 years.

Malan played a terrific innings as England topped the 10-runs-an-over rate, with the left-hander cracking 78 not out from 47 balls, the sixth time that Malan has scored more than 75 in a T20I. Pakistan were generous in the field, including a let-off for Malan at the start of the penultimate over when Mohammad Wasim dropped a steepler.

With Ben Duckett clubbing 30 from 19 balls and Harry Brook clearing the ropes four times in 46no from 29 balls, it meant Pakistan faced a tall order.

It immediately looked beyond them when captain Babar Azam (4) and fellow opener Mohammad Rizwan (1) fell in the opening eight balls of the reply, and Iftikhar Ahmed (19) did not last long either.

Pakistan were nowhere near the required run rate from the early stages, and their lack of urgency made it a subdued contest, with the result meaning they have now lost five and drawn two of their seven T20I multi-game series against England. Shan Masood top-scored with 56 for the beaten hosts.

Willey joins England elite in passing landmark

Needing two wickets to reach 50 in T20I matches, David Willey (2-22) reached that target by removing Iftikhar and Wasim. It made him the fifth England player to reach 50 T20I wickets, after Chris Jordan, Adil Rashid, Stuart Broad and Graeme Swann.

Wasim woe

Wasim went for 0-61 from the four overs he sent down, including giving up 20 runs in the 20th over. Those were his most expensive figures in a T20I, with this his 15th match in the format. The previous most runs he had conceded in a four-over stint came when he took 2-44 against West Indies in Karachi last December.

Phil Salt is "grateful for the backing" he has received after starring for England in their eight-wicket victory over Pakistan.

Having struggled in his previous five innings in England's seven-match T20I series, when managing just 59 runs, Salt hit a blistering 88 not out from 41 deliveries on Friday.

Salt reached a half-century in 19 balls – the third-fastest by an England player in the format – as the tourists levelled up the series at 3-3 in Lahore.

That set up a decider on Sunday, when Salt will have another chance to underline his credentials to retain his spot at the top of the order at the upcoming T20 World Cup.

"I'm very grateful for the backing I've got from my team-mates and the management. It's very clear the way they want me to play," the 26-year-old said.

"The way I play is aggressive and I want to win as many games as possible while I'm in an England shirt. 

"The first few games haven't gone to plan – I've been finding ways to get out, hitting fielders or whatever – but it's nice to come up with a performance like that in a big game.

“It's always a challenge at the top of the order when you feel like you're playing well but you're picking out fielders and finding ways to get out.

"It was definitely [my best T20 innings] and it was nice to do it with the series in the balance."

With Jos Buttler due to return from injury in time for the World Cup, Salt is realistically in competition with Alex Hales over partnering the white-ball skipper.

"You need competition. The best sides in the world have competition and you can't get away from that – it's the same in any sport," Salt added.

"Everyone is trying to put their best foot forwards and show the coaching team and the team-mates how good they are.

"I'm not looking too far into the future; I'm just focused on the next game in a couple of days' time."

Salt's destruction of the Pakistan attack came after home captain Babar Azam had hit an unbeaten 87 to set England a target of 170 for victory.

Babar became the first Pakistan batter to reach 3,000 T20I runs during his half-century, doing so in the absence of the rested Mohammad Rizwan.

He is the fifth men's player to reach that milestone in the format and the joint-quickest to do so alongside India great Virat Kohli.

Reflecting on what was ultimately a disappointing day for his side, however, Babar said: "After losing a couple of early wickets, we thought 170 was a good score. 

"Maybe we were 10 runs or so short, but the way Salt batted in the first four or five overs, they took the game away from us. 

"The way they used the powerplay was the turnaround today. I think the middle-order needs to step up, they need to take responsibility."

Phil Salt hit a blistering 88 as England beat Pakistan by eight wickets on Friday to level up their seven-match T20I series at 3-3 in Lahore.

Pakistan recovered from a slow start that saw them 15-2 at one point to post 169-6 at the Gaddafi Stadium, thanks in large to the brilliant Babar Azam (87 not out).

But England made easy work of the chase as they reached 100 from seven overs to set up a decider on Sunday.

Without in-form Mohammad Rizwan, Pakistan initially struggled as Mohammad Haris (7) and Shan Masood (0) fell early on, leaving Babar to do much of the leg work.

Haider Ali (18), Iftikhar Ahmed (31) and Asif Ali took their side to 136-4, but the latter upper cut to Reece Topley for nine runs and Mohammad Nawaz (12) followed soon after.

Babar's 87 did at least give England something to think about, but Salt and Alex Hales put on an opening partnership of 55 off 23 balls, before the latter was removed for 27.

Salt reached his half-century off just 19 balls en route to an unbeaten 88, including the decisive shot as England posted 170-2 to level things up.

Babar brilliance not enough

Pakistan were without run machine Rizwan but Babar stepped up with 87 runs off 59 balls, which included three sixes and seven fours.

Babar surpassed a milestone 3,000 T20I runs in the process, yet it was not enough to steer the hosts to an unassailable series lead.

England ease to victory

The tourists were set 170 to avoid a third successive T20I defeat to Pakistan for the first time ever and had no trouble in reaching that target.

Only once before – against New Zealand in November 2019 (6.4 overs in a game reduced by rain to 11 overs) – have England previously reached 100 from seven overs.

Salt played a key part in that as he underlined his credentials to partner Jos Buttler at the upcoming T20 World Cup.

Emile Heskey believes Gareth Southgate should be given the chance to turn England's fortunes around after relegation from League A in the Nations League.

The Three Lions' manager has come in for criticism after his team finished bottom of Group 3, failing to win any of their six outings against Italy, Hungary and Germany (D3 L3).

With the World Cup in Qatar kicking off in less than two months, the pressure is on Southgate to deliver, though he did guide England to the semi-finals in Russia in 2018 before reaching the final of the rescheduled Euro 2020 tournament last year.

Heskey – who made 62 appearances for England – thinks Southgate and his players can turn it around and can take positives from their 3-3 draw with Germany at Wembley on Monday.

Speaking to Stats Perform, the former Liverpool and Aston Villa striker said: "I think the draw against Germany did redeem [England] in some cases.

"I thought the fight they showed was fantastic to get it back to 3-2 because they could easily have given up at 2-0 [down]. But they fought back to make it 3-2 and then 3-3, obviously.

"Football has always fascinated me [because] we put no pressure on them, and [then] they get to a semi-final and a final, then we suddenly heap a load of pressure on them and you can see what's happening."

Prior to the six-goal thriller with Germany, England had failed to score with any of their previous 62 non-penalty shots, a run of seven hours and 30 minutes without a non-penalty goal.

Southgate's men are also winless in their last six games in all competitions, their longest run since April to June 1993 (also six). It is their longest ever winless run going into a major tournament.

"When you're not doing well, they're going to justify criticism, and you've got to accept that criticism. It's how you bounce back from that," Heskey added.

"None of these have turned into bad players overnight, and the manager isn't a bad manager overnight. I think you've got to give him the opportunity to turn it around and turn the fortune of the players around as well."

One of the concerns widely discussed has been whether Southgate knows his best team before they take on Iran, the United States and Wales in Group B at the World Cup, but Heskey pointed out selection headaches mean the manager has a number of credible options available to him.

"You could put it either way," he said. "It could be alarming, or it could be a good thing that we don't know the best 11 because players are coming in.

"You've even got Ivan Toney coming into the [last] squad... [Mason] Mount's played a lot of games and then come back in and scored.

"So it's always good to keep the manager on his toes. But you really should know who your starting 11 is coming up to a major tournament."

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