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Raheem Sterling Set To Be Given Shock England Start By Gareth Soutgate Against Croatia

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Raheem Sterling Set To Be Given Shock England Start By Gareth Soutgate Against Croatia

Reports out of the England camp strongly suggest that Raheem Sterling is set to start England's Euro 2020 opener against Croatia at Wembley on Sunday.

Gareth Southgate's line-up is attracting a lot of interest due to England's array of attacking talent and the fact that he rested every Chelsea and Manchester City player in his two warm-up games. So nobody is precisely sure what his first-choice XI looks like.

However early reports (per Mail Sport) suggest that Sterling is now set to start, with Harry Kane and Mason Mount also certain to play.

That means two of Phil Foden, Jack Grealish and Marcus Rashford are likely to miss out.

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Sterling has been an England and Man City regular for most of the last six years. However he endured a patchy 2020/21 season and Pep Guardiola's decision to start him in the Champions League final against Chelsea was a surprise to many.

Despite Sterling's undoubted quality, many fans view Foden, Grealish and Borussia Dortmund's Jadon Sancho as being in better form right now.

But it appears that Southgate is going to show loyalty to one of his regular starters and give Sterling the nod to begin against the World Cup runners-up in the Group D opener.

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A major tactical choice Southgate has to make is stick with the back four he used in the friendlies against Austria and Romania or switch to a back five. However even if Southgate goes with a four-man defence, he may well select another more defensive-minded midfielder to sit alongside Declan Rice - so inevitably some of England's attacking talent will miss out.

Grealish currently looks unlikely to make the starting XI, despite his sparkling play in the warm-up games.

The 25-year-old Aston Villa ace missed a large chunk of the end of the season with a shin injury and may have to try and make an impact from the bench, if chosen to come on.

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Harry Maguire looks almost certain to miss out, although Southgate insists he is "progressing really well" as the Manchester United captain continues his recovery from an ankle injury.

Jordan Henderson is also unlikely to start as - while he played 45 minutes against Romania - the Liverpool skipper has only just returned from a long-term groin injury.

All imagery: PA Images

Topics: Euro 2020, England, Gareth Southgate, Raheem Sterling

Alex Reid
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