England manager Gareth Southgate is set to field attacking players as they face Croatia in their Euro 2020 opener at Wembley on Sunday.
Southgate will consider fielding Raheem Sterling, Jordan Henderson and Harry Kane in a formation that would see Manchester’s Marcus Rashford starting on the bench.
Both Sterling and Henderson were recently awarded honorary MBE’s during the Queen’s birthday for services to racial equality and charity respectively.
There had been doubts if Sterling would feature in the starting XI since he has been sidelined by Pep Gourdiola but Southgate is trying everything possible to begin his European Championship campaigns on a winning note.
Sterling has lost his place in his club (Manchester City) but he still remains Southgate’s untouchable forwards.
The English manager is keen on sticking with the four-man defence he used during the friendly wins over Austria and Romania.
And with an array of attacking players including Mason Mount expected to dominate his starting XI squad, two of Marcus Rashford, Phil Foden and Jack Grealish would miss out.
Rashford is still one of Southgate’s favorites but he is carrying niggling injuries which will see him benched while Grealish will just begin on the bench despite his good performance in the pre-tournament warm-ups.
Southgate also hinted that his first-choice central defender Harry Maguire can not be ruled out since he was ahead of schedule in his recovery from an ankle injury.
‘He is progressing really well. It is still a long shot (for Croatia) but we are checking in daily and he is further ahead than he thought he might be. We are not going to rule it out.’ Southgate said.
But it will be miraculous for Maguire to start against the 2018 World Cup runners-up Croatia since he has not fully recovered from a ligament damage he suffered on May 9.
England will also begin their campaigns without midfielder Henderson who is still recovering from a long-term groin injury.