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What issues face Gareth Southgate ahead of Spain and Switzerland ties?

| 03.09.2018

The Premier League takes a backseat over the next fortnight as the international scene takes centre-stage.

England are 8/5 to begin their Nations League campaign with a win against Spain before hosting Switzerland in a friendly at the King Power Stadium next Tuesday.

Can Gareth Southgate’s side build on the momentum gained from the World Cup?

We’ve raised three issues the waistcoat-wearing boss could be concerned about ahead of the double header.

Overreliance on Harry Kane

England and Tottenham Hotspur don’t only share a number of the same players – they also share a number of the same problems.

The most pertinent of those is an overreliance on Harry Kane.

In total, 14 out of the 32 goals scored by the Three Lions since the start of 2017 have come from the boot or head of Kane.

That doesn’t seem too bad.

But it becomes an issue when England’s second most prolific forward in the last 21 months is a two-way tie between Marcus Rashford, Danny Welbeck and Jamie Vardy, each on two goals apiece.

Raheem Sterling, in particular, needs to start stepping up to the plate in front of goal.

Can Luke Shaw and Joe Gomez force their way in?

Ashley Young’s omission from the squad means the left wing-back position is up for grabs.

Danny Rose is the more experienced option to take over the role, although it’s Manchester United ace Luke Shaw who appears likelier to get the nod.

The 23-year-old has returned to form in some style this term. His performances have earned plaudits from fans and pundits alike in spite of United’s lacklustre start.

A first England appearance since March 2017 would cap a remarkable start to the season for Shaw, who hasn’t missed a minute for the Red Devils so far this season.

Is it time to start Eric Dier?

Jordan Henderson was exceptional for England during the World Cup.

The Liverpool midfielder held the Three Lions together at the base of the midfield as they roared their way to the semi-finals in Russia.

But opportunities at Anfield have been limited since his return, with Naby Keita staking significant claims in Henderson’s defensive midfield role.

That could leave the ex-Sunderland man short of match sharpness. So could it be time to start Eric Dier in the engine room on a more consistent basis?

The Spurs star has excelled for his club without transferring that form to the national team.

With Henderson facing competition for his place at Liverpool, and Southgate previously stating he’ll only pick players who play, could Dier be set for a more permanent role at the heart of the midfield?

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Nick Murphy

Nick is a graduate of the UEA where he doubled up as the sports editor of the student newspaper. He supports Dagenham & Redbridge and previously edited the matchday programme at Victoria Road. Darts and Horse Racing are among his other favourite sports.