England begin their World Cup countdown with Gareth Southgate desperately needing a quick-fire improvement. After a shambolic summer in the Nations League, the Three Lions boss has been questioned of late, with his team even booed off at times.
Still, and while relegation in the Nations League would be hugely disappointing, Southgate’s success in his role has been built on performances on major tournaments. While tonight’s opponents in the Italian denied him a historic European Championship win at Wembley, England have to be considered major players heading into Qatar even if recent results have been alarming.
More than anything, the optics are important here. England haven’t beaten the Italians in their own backyard since 1961 so not winning wouldn’t exactly be a disaster, but Southgate cannot afford another poor performance. Clearly, there are bigger concerns ahead, but a resounding loss inside San Siro would damage morale even further. Keep across all of the action LIVE with Standard Sport’s dedicated match blog. Dan Kilpatrick and Malik Ouzia will be providing expert analysis!
Toney left OUT of England squad in surprise omission for Italy clash
Ivan Toney has been left out of the England squad to face Italy in the Nations League tonight.
The Brentford striker earned his first international call-up following a fine start to the Premier League season but will have to wait for his Three Lions debut.
Toney, Marc Guehi, Ben Chilwell and Jordan Henderson have not been included in the 23-man matchday squad to face Italy in Milan.
The news is a blow for Toney, who is hoping to stake a claim for a spot in Gareth Southgate’s squad for the World Cup after scoring five goals in seven games so far this term.
Prediction: 1-1 draw
This is one is likely to be cagey. England cannot risk getting played off the park in what has been a difficult atmosphere for them over the years.
Italy team news: Sandro Tonali a doubt
For the Italians, Lorenzo Pellegrini and Matteo Politano have pulled out of the squad, meaning Roberto Mancini will likely have to turn to some less established names, while AC Milan’s Sandro Tonali is another doubt.
England team news: Dier and Pope to start
Given the close proximity of the World Cup, it’s hard to imagine Southgate tinkering too much. Kalvin Phillips is injured, meaning there’s a strong chance of seeing Declan Rice and Jude Bellingham paired together in midfield, although there could well be starts for Harry Maguire and Luke Shaw despite their lack of action at club level.
Nick Pope will likely deputise for the absent Jordan Pickford in goal, while Harry Kane and Raheem Sterling are certain starters. John Stones is suspended, meaning Eric Dier could come into the starting lineup with his England exile finally over.
Where to watch Italy vs England
TV channel: In the UK, tonight’s game will be broadcast live free-to-air on Channel 4, with coverage beginning at 7pm.
Live stream: All 4 (free with a subscription) will also provide a live stream online.
LIVE coverage: Follow all the action tonight with Standard Sport’s dedicated live match blog, with expert analysis from chief football correspondent Dan Kilpatrick in Milan.
Good afternoon and welcome to Standard Sport’s LIVE match coverage as England travel to Italy in the Nations League.
Kick-off inside San Siro is at 7.45pm BST.