Three talking points before England vs USA
Exactly one month on from England picking up their finest victory on foreign soil in recent memory, Gareth Southgate will be desperate to keep up the momentum following on from their famous 3-2 win in Betis.
Ahead of their crucial UEFA Nations League showdown with Croatia on Sunday, this summer’s World Cup semi-finalists will welcome the USA to Wembley on Thursday night.
England can qualify for the semi-finals if Spain fail to beat Croatia on Thursday and The Three Lions beat The Blazers three days later.
With a number of new faces in Southgate’s 25-man squad, there are three key talking points prior to kick-off.
Jadon Sancho to make his full debut
Earning his first senior cap after making a second-half cameo appearance in last month’s 0-0 draw with Croatia, it appears that teenage sensation Jadon Sancho is set to go one step further on Thursday night.
A key factor behind Borussia Dortmund’s rise to the top of the Bundesliga table, the 18-year-old is reportedly set to feature in Gareth Southgate’s starting XI.
Since making his debut in Rijeka, the former Manchester City starlet has only seen his stock skyrocket and is now regarded to be one of the hottest prospects in Europe.
Jadon Sancho in the Bundesliga so far this season:
Running towards his first England start like… pic.twitter.com/VWZWurzRMw
— Squawka Football (@Squawka) November 14, 2018
Along with picking up four assists at the start of the season, Sancho has also added four Bundesliga goals and also opened his Champions League account in last month’s 2-0 win over Atletico Madrid.
Probably aided by the injury to Danny Welbeck and with Southgate having one eye on Sunday’s UEFA Nations League clash with Croatia, Thursday will be a perfect platform for the Dortmund winger.
With the England boss using a revamped 4-3-3 against Spain, Sancho will likely line-up on the right-hand side of Southgate’s attacking trio.
A first cap for Callum Wilson and Lewis Dunk?
If there is one man who has led Bournemouth’s charge up the table early in the season, that man would be Callum Wilson.
With Eddie Howe’s side sat sixth in the Premier League entering the international break, whispers of a shock European push are being muttered around the Vitality Stadium.
If Bournemouth are to enjoy a record-breaking season, they will need their top scorer to carry on with what has been a very successful start to the new campaign.
The 26-year-old has had a direct hand in more Premier League goals this season – scoring six goals and providing four assists – than England captain Harry Kane, PFA Player of the Year Mohamed Salah and Arsenal’s record-signing Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.
A huge honour to be announced in the @england squad today!! Days like this just prove that no matter what obstacles you face in life, you can always bounce back and more!! ?????????? pic.twitter.com/kB5rChuvhy
— Callum Wilson (@CallumWilson) November 8, 2018
Another Premier League star likely to earn his first England cap will be Brighton defender Lewis Dunk.
Forming a very impressive partnership with Shane Duffy at the heart of the Seagulls’ defence over the past two seasons, the 26-year-old has been a huge part of Brighton’s transformation into a stable top-flight slide.
Scoring in back to back Premier League games for the first time in his career, Dunk also sits in the top 10 for the league’s most clearances and blocks.
Rooney’s controversial call-up
Undoubtedly the biggest talking point prior to England’s clash with the USA is Southgate’s decision to recall Wayne Rooney to his 25-man squad.
Despite announcing his international retirement back in 2017, the 33-year-old is set to earn his 120th cap after being recalled for a one-off farewell performance.
During an international career that has spanned 15 years, Rooney has made the most England appearances by an outfield player and is also the leading goalscorer with 53.
Along with Southgate confirming that Rooney will wear his trademark number 10 shirt, the forward will also be given a guard of honour when welcomed on to the pitch.
Great to catch up with the lads and meet some of the new squad members ???????? pic.twitter.com/MI35jyNayO
— Wayne Rooney (@WayneRooney) November 14, 2018
While the proceeds of Thursday’s friendly will go to the Wayne Rooney Foundation, some pundits and former players have been frustrated by the former Manchester United man’s recall.
Despite scoring 12 goals in his 21 games for MLS outfit DC United and playing a huge part in their rise to the Eastern Conference playoffs, England’s record appearance maker Peter Shilton believes that caps for your nation should not be “given out like gifts”.
Whether people agree with Rooney’s call-up, or not, there is no doubt that England’s record-breaking captain deserves a well-deserved send-off.
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