England vs Spain: 5 talking points around Gareth Southgate's team as they look to bounce back from semi-final ...

By On September 07, 2018

England vs Spain: 5 talking points around Gareth Southgate's team as they look to bounce back from semi-final ...

England return to Wembley on Saturday for the first time since their best World Cup performance in 28 years.

Spain are the opposition in the inaugural Nations League competition, with the feelgood factor around the team strong after their run to the last four in Russia.

Here, Rory Dollard looks at the key issues:

A happy homecoming

A general view of Wembley stadium, where England play Spain on Saturday (PA)

Gareth Southgate was quick to seize on the apparent disconnect between the Three Lions and the public at large when he arrived in the job.

That problem manifested itself most obviously at the national stadium , where early qualifying games attracted indifferent crowds, occasional boos and an abundance of paper aeroplanes.

Events in Russia completed the job of reviving the relationship and Southgate's squad have earned a celebratory atmosphere on their return.

Kane: golden boy or tiring talisman?

Harry Kane of Tottenham Hotspur looks tired (Getty Images)

The England skipper ticked off a major achievement while leading the side this summer, leaving the tournament as the Golden Boot winner with six goals.

Yet the consensus holds that he was short of his best in the knockout stages, fatigued by workload and the weight on his shoulders.

Some of the same signs have been evident with Tottenham this season and how he performs against the Spaniards should off er a clear insight into his current condition.

Searching for a scalp

Gareth Southgate has spent this week at St George's Park (Getty)

The progress made in the past two years has been tangible and impressive.

Winning pressu re knockout games and coming through a penalty shoot-out represent considerable improvements but Southgate is first to admit he has yet to knock a truly elite opponent off their perch. Despite falling below expectations in Russia, Spain would easily fit that criteria, especially in a competitive environment.

England gave away the lead late on last time Spain visited and going one better would be a feather in the cap.

Reshuffling the right?

Joe Gomez has put his summer of World Cup agony behind him to return for the England squad (Reuters)

Southgate is a long-standing fan of Joe Gomez and would have taken him to the World Cup if not for injury.

The 21-year-old's confident start to the campaign with Liverpool can only have reinforced his confidence and he has to be a candidate to start on the right of a back three in defence. That would see Kyle Walker bumped from an experimental position and back into a head-to-head with Kieran Trippier at right wing-back.

That head-scratcher might be deferred by starting Gomez from the bench but it is likely to be a persistent debate.

Joe Gomez interview - "It was tough seeing England do so well"

Standing in for Sterling

Raheem Sterling played well at the World Cup with England (Getty)

If Southgate perseveres with his World Cup formation, Kane will need a new partner due to the absence of Raheem Sterling.

Marcus Rashford is the most obvious deputy but has not set the world alight for Manchester United recently while Dele Alli would surely fancy a chance higher up the pitch and in closer contact with his Spurs team-mate.

Sterling's skills are well appreciated in the England camp but his long goal drought means whoever does get the nod has an opportunity to push ha rd for his place.

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Source: Google News Spain | Netizen 24 Spain

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