Italy vs England LIVE: Nations League team news, lineups and more tonight as Harry Maguire kicks off

‘So unreal, it’s such a privilege’ – striker Toney on England’s first appeal

England are looking to avoid relegation in the Nations League against Italy at the San Siro tonight. After crushing defeats by Hungary in June and draws against Italy and Germany, the Drei Löwen sit bottom of Group 3 on just two points. They are three points behind tonight’s opponents and a loss tonight means Gareth’s men Southgate will be relegated to League B.

What’s more, those two Nations League games – England also play Germany on Monday night – are the last chances for Southgate to get a feel for his squad before the World Cup begins in Qatar later this year.

The line-up the England manager opts for tonight will show his priorities as a strong team of experienced first-choice picks would show just how important he is to being in the top flight of the Nations League. On the other hand, with just two games left before the World Cup, Southgate could decide to give playing time to players pushing for spots like Ivan Toney, who could make his debut for the national team.

Follow all the action at the San Siro as Italy host England in the Nations League:

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Italy vs England

England have lost just two of their last 26 games, both against Hungary in June.

The Three Lions are without a win in four games but have scored just once in that span. They last had an extended winning streak in June 2014, which included a 2-1 loss to Italy in one of those five games at the World Cup.

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Italy vs England

Nick Pope becomes only the second Newcastle United goalkeeper to play for England, following Matthew Kingsley in March 1901 against Wales, who became the first Newcastle player ever to play for England.

(The FA via Getty Images)

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Gareth Southgate ready to give ‘reputation’ to Harry Maguire’s England pick

Gareth Southgate says he’s ready to stake his ‘reputation’ on Harry Maguire and offers his full support for the struggling Manchester United centre-back as he described him as one of England’s ‘best’ and ‘most important’ players to do something the team can achieve that others cannot. The international manager went so far as to describe Maguire and John Stones as “as good as anyone else in world football” as they climb the pitch with the ball.

Such is the 29-year-old’s standing in the England squad that Southgate said he had no need for further talks with him despite being dropped from the United team. The feeling in the English camp was that Maguire would start Friday night’s game against Italy at the San Siro and he clearly remains one of Southgate’s first-choice centre-halfs. That was made quite clear by his pre-match comments, when the England manager stressed he was willing to use his ‘reputation’ for such decisions.

“Whatever reputation I have, I put it there,” Southgate said. “I think, look, you always have to use your judgment and we think he’s an important player.”

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Pressure and problems are building for Gareth Southgate as England face the pre-World Cup test

On Tuesday night, Gareth Southgate summoned the England side for their first proper meeting since the humiliation against Hungary. He didn’t have to say that every minute counts from now on, because all the players know that.

You are fully aware that things must be different from June. For his part, the England coach would prefer things to be different at the moment.

It’s hard to complain about a trip to Milan in this weather – in the middle of fashion week – but Southgate really could use 10 days of it, and maybe more forgiving dates. This is what World Cup preparation camps usually look like, where the managers try to create the right atmosphere. However, that is what this represents.

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Gareth Southgate’s loyalty to out-of-form players questioned ahead of World Cup

Former England defender Glen Johnson has questioned the wisdom of Gareth Southgate, who remains loyal to the likes of Harry Maguire on the eve of a World Cup.

The Manchester United captain, who has been under surveillance for the past 18 months, does not play regularly for his club as new manager Erik ten Tag favors the centre-back partnership of Lisandro Martinez and Raphael Varane.

Maguire’s club-mate Luke Shaw is also in the England squad despite making just two starts in the Premier League, one of which saw him being sent off 4-0 at half-time against Brentford.

Southgate also called up Kalvin Phillips, who had played just 14 minutes of football since joining Manchester City in the summer before withdrawing with a renewed shoulder injury.

Johnson said while loyalty goes a long way, in tournament football, picking those who don’t play regularly can have significant disadvantages.

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England captain Harry Kane reveals the secrets behind improved fitness and injury records

Harry Kane has credited working with a new physical therapist with being in the best shape he’s ever been as he spoke of how a hamstring injury in January 2020 sparked a career-changing reassessment of his approach. The England captain hasn’t had any major problems since, despite previously suffering from repeated ankle injuries that had a knock-on effect.

While Kane declined to name his new physio, only admitting that he is Hispanic, he was gushing about the results. The striker said he came across him through a sportsman friend and is working with him separately from Tottenham – but the club are obviously aware of it.

“I feel great – let’s put it that way. I don’t know if it’s the fittest I’ve ever had, but I feel really good.”

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England has arrived at the San Siro

Just under an hour before kick-off and England are there tonight at the San Siro

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England World Cup 2022 squad: who’s on the plane, who’s in the race and who’s busy?

England’s Nations League double header against Italy and Germany this month is Gareth Southgate’s last chance to work with his players before he selects his squad for this winter’s World Cup in Qatar.

Southgate’s 28-man selection for September’s internationals contained few surprises, save for a first call-up for Ivan Toney after the Brentford striker made a brilliant start to the new Premier League season.

However, time is running out for Toney and others on the fringes of the squad to meddle in Southgate’s thinking with just weeks until the tournament.

England are looking to go one step further and win their first major international tournament in Qatar in 56 years. Southgate’s side face Iran, the United States and Wales in Group B and will be hoping to continue the steady progress of recent years.

Here, The Independent takes a look at who might do the final cut…

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Team news from Italy

Italy XI: Donnarumma; Di Lorenzo, Acerbi Bonucci, Toloi; Jorginho, Cristante, Dimarco; Raspadori, Scamacca, Barella

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England team news

A fascinating English squad. Nick Pope gets the nod in goal while Eric Dier and Harry Maguire are among the defenders.

If Gareth Southgate opts for five at the back, Bukayo Saka looks set to play at LWB, although he could move up to the three behind Harry Kane if England opt for 4-2-3-1

England XI: pope; James, Walker, Dier, Maguire, Saka; Rice, Bellingham; Sterling, Kane, Foden