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What questions are facing England ahead of Spain and Croatia tests?

| 08.10.2018

England resume their Nations League campaign over the next week with tricky away fixtures against Spain and Croatia in Group A4.

The Three Lions need two wins and a big swing in goal difference to move above La Roja in the table.

They’re 7/4 to kick things off with three points against Croatia. But before that, we’ve got three questions for waistcoat-wearing impresario Gareth Southgate.

Will he bed in the young lions?

Plenty has been made of Southgate’s squad selection. The England boss has opted to include a number of youngsters in his 25-man squad.

The question is – will he blood them straight away?

Jadon Sancho, Mason Mount and James Maddison could all win caps for the first time. Harry Winks is in line to make just his second international appearance.

England’s scarcity of midfield options means that at least two of the three new midfield faces are likely to get minutes.

Bundesliga assist-machine Sancho could provide a dangerous weapon off the bench.

Can Kane start scoring?

Harry Kane finished up as the World Cup’s Golden Boot winner. Yet the Tottenham Hotspur ace is enduring something of a barren run for the Three Lions.

The 25-year-old has failed to find the back of the net in his last five matches for his country.

That’s Kane’s longest barren run internationally since 2016. If the Spurs man continues to be found wanting in front of goal, then others have to step up to the plate.

Southgate has recently spoken of how Raheem Sterling needs to add more goals to his game, although at least Marcus Rashford is netting regularly for England.

Croatia and Spain will be attuned defensively next weekend. Will the Three Lions be able to find a way through?

Who shackles Modric?

England’s World Cup exit was in large part down to not dealing with Luka Modric effectively.

Three months later and they face the same task all over again. So, have Southgate, and in particular, Jordan Henderson learned their lessons?

Well, they’re sure to pay closer attention to the Real Madrid ace after his match-winning performance in Moscow back in the summer.

But it’s difficult to see what the Three Lions can really do to stem the diminutive ace’s influence.

Put simply, Modric is better than anything England have in midfield or otherwise.

Henderson will attempt to put a cork in the Croatian’s ability, but Southgate’s men will have to better their opponents elsewhere on the pitch to counter the Golden Ball winners’ influence.

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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.