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The Experimental England XI Gareth Southgate Should Start Against Spain

BURTON-UPON-TRENT, ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 10: Gareth Southgate, Interim England manager looks on next to Jordan Henderson during a press conference ahead of the FIFA 2018 World Cup qualifying group F match against Scotland at St George's Park on November 10, 2016 in Burton-upon-Trent, England. (Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)

England boss Gareth Southgate takes on Spain on Tuesday evening in something of a pressure-free environment.

The interim manager is expected to be given the job on a permanent basis in the coming weeks after a run of two games and a draw which has kept the Three Lions on course to qualify for the next World Cup in two years’ time.

The match at Wembley is a friendly, that plus the calibre of the opposition means that Southgate can go into the game in relaxed mood, free to make a few alterations to his first-choice team.

England have already confirmed that Harry Kane has returned to Tottenham and will play no part in proceedings, while Jordan Henderson will captain the side as Wayne Rooney is not expected to start having missed training on Monday.

Jamie Vardy is likely to start up front against Spain, and while Southgate has hinted that wholesale changes will not be made, maybe he should consider that possibility a bit more in order to give some players valuable international experience.

So how should England line up against Spain?

Goalkeeper:

Tom Heaton (Burnley)

SUNDERLAND, ENGLAND - MAY 27: Tom Heaton of England shakes hands with England manager Roy Hodgson following the International Friendly match between England and Australia at Stadium of Light on May 27, 2016 in Sunderland, England. (Photo by Michael Regan - The FA/The FA via Getty Images)

Heaton’s international career so far consists of a three-minute cameo against Australia in a Euro 2016 warm-up friendly in May of this year. However, the 30-year-old has been earning rave reviews for a string of fine performances in the Premier League for Burnley this season – particularly in the 0-0 draw against former club Manchester United at Old Trafford – and will feel like he has earned a chance to impress.

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Defenders:

Right-Back: Nathaniel Clyne (Liverpool)

LONDON, ENGLAND - MARCH 29: Nathaniel Clyne of England makes a pass during the International Friendly match between England and Netherlands at Wembley Stadium on March 29, 2016 in London, England. (Photo by Paul Gilham/Getty Images)

Centre-Back: John Stones (Manchester City)

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - MAY 22: John Stones of England in action during the International Friendly match between England and Turkey at Etihad Stadium on May 22, 2016 in Manchester, England. (Photo by Michael Regan - The FA/The FA via Getty Images)

Centre-Back: Michael Keane (Burnley)

France forward Paul-Georges Ntep (R) fights for the ball with England defender Michael Keane on November 17, 2014 during an Under-21 international friendly football match between France and England at the Francis Le Ble stadium in the western French city of Brest. AFP PHOTO / FRED TANNEAU (Photo credit should read FRED TANNEAU/AFP/Getty Images)

Left-Back: Danny Rose (Tottenham Hotspur)

LONDON, ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 11: Danny Rose of England in action during the FIFA 2018 World Cup qualifying match between England and Scotland at Wembley Stadium on November 11, 2016 in London, England. (Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images)

Kyle Walker appears to have nailed down the right-back for competitive games, though there is no reason why Clyne, having an impressive season with Premier League table-toppers Liverpool, should not be given a chance in a friendly.

The same goes for Michael Keane in the centre. The Burnley defender, like Heaton behind him, has been solid for the Clarets this season and Southgate could give Gary Cahill a rest by handing Keane a first England cap. Next to him should be John Stones, who needs all the practice he can get – and the relaxed setting of a friendly should suit him perfectly.

At left-back, Ryan Bertrand should start if fit, but the fact that the Southampton defender sat out training on Monday means that Rose will probably keep his place. Late call-up Aaron Cresswell remains an option but he is likely to be brought on as a substitute if at all.

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Midfielders:

Eric Dier (Tottenham Hotspur)

LONDON, ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 11: Eric Dier of England in action during the FIFA 2018 World Cup Qualifier between England and Scotland at Wembley Stadium on November 11, 2016 in London, England. (Photo by Laurence Griffiths - The FA/The FA via Getty Images)

Centre-Midfield: Jordan Henderson (Liverpool)

LONDON, ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 11: Jordan Henderson of England in action during the FIFA 2018 World Cup qualifying match between England and Scotland at Wembley Stadium on November 11, 2016 in London, England. (Photo by Richard Heathcote/Getty Images)

Attacking Midfield: Adam Lallana (Liverpool)

during the FIFA 2018 World Cup Qualifier between England and Scotland at Wembley Stadium on November 11, 2016 in London, England.

Jordan Henderson will captain the side, so he is guaranteed to start. After that, England do not have many alternatives to choose from in the name of experimentation. Eric Dier and Adam Lallana could both start simply because there is nobody else.

Bournemouth’s Jack Wilshere remains an option, and starting ahead of Lallana is a definite possibility, but Dier is almost certain to start as Southgate didn’t deem it necessary to call up another central midfielder after Danny Drinkwater had to withdraw due to injury.

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Forwards:

Right-Wing: Theo Walcott (Arsenal)

LONDON, ENGLAND - MARCH 29: Theo Walcott of England during the International Friendly match between England and Netherlands at Wembley Stadium on March 29, 2016 in London, England. (Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images)

Left-Wing: Marcus Rashford (Manchester United)

LONDON, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 08: Marcus Rashford of England shoots during the FIFA 2018 World Cup Qualifier Group F match between England and Malta at Wembley Stadium on October 8, 2016 in London, England. (Photo by Alex Morton - The FA/The FA via Getty Images)

Striker: Jamie Vardy (Leicester City)

LONDON, ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 11: Jamie Vardy of England in action during the FIFA 2018 World Cup qualifying match between England and Scotland at Wembley Stadium on November 11, 2016 in London, England. (Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images)

Walcott’s sparkling Arsenal form this season hasn’t quite led to the international breakthrough some might have imagined it would. but he is back in the squad after his Euro 2016 omission and that should suffice for now. In the meantime, he should get a greater chance to stake his claim for a spot against Spain.

As too should Marcus Rashford. The 19-year-old is very much England’s fourth choice striker right now, so he may yet get an opportunity to impress in the wing position he has been operating in at club level in recent weeks.

Vardy, meanwhile, can consider himself somewhat fortunate that a return of three goals (the last of which came two months ago) in seventeen games has not significantly harmed his England career. Rumours are rife that he will be given the chance to lead the line at Wembley on Tuesday.

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Author: The PA Team

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