Talking points ahead of England’s last match of 2020 against Iceland17 November 2020
England host Iceland on Wednesday night in the last of their Nations League fixtures and their final game of 2020. With four months until the next international break, Gareth Southgate will be keen to head into Christmas on a positive note after what is essentially a dead-rubber. Here, the PA news agency takes a look at some of the key talking points heading into the game.
Reykjavik renegade Foden sets out for redemption
Phil Foden made his England debut in the reverse fixture – a narrow 1-0 victory for Southgate's side. But what should have been a memorable time for the Manchester City midfielder ended in disgrace as he and fellow debutant Mason Greenwood were sent home for breaching Covid regulations following the win. While Greenwood is yet to be recalled, Foden came off the bench in the friendly victory over the Republic of Ireland last week and will be keen to show what he can do from the off this time out.
Thin Ice – squad withdrawals hit visitors as Erik Hamren bows out
Iceland came within two minutes of qualifying for Euro 2020 before conceding two late goals to lose their play-off with Hungary last week. After failing to follow up their 2016 campaign by taking Iceland there himself, manager Erik Hamren announced he would be stepping down after this international break. The Swede would love nothing more than to leave on a high but a number of notable names have pulled out of the squad – with Everton's Gylfi Sigurdsson and Burnley midfielder Johann Berg Gudmundsson among those to return to their clubs early.
Eurovision for Three Lions fringe players
With World Cup qualifiers taking place in March, the visit of Iceland is the last time Southgate can take a look at some of his squad players in a relatively stress-free environment. While a host of names will already be all-but assured of a place in his squad for the rescheduled Euro 2020 finals, there will be some looking to make a lasting impact on Wednesday evening. Kieran Trippier will start in the hotly-contested position on the right side of defence while the likes of Harry Winks, Ainsley Maitland-Niles and Tammy Abraham will all be hoping for an opportunity to impress.
Southgate has spoken at length about the risk of players suffering injury or burnout given the congested fixture list. He will be keen to avoid any club versus country debates by sending the remaining players back to their respective sides fit and healthy. That could also lead to those who have been utilised less during the past two games coming into contention at Wembley this time out.
Bellingham to break record?
Jude Bellingham became the third-youngest player to earn an England cap when he came off the bench against the Republic of Ireland to make his debut aged just 17 years and 136 days. But the Borussia Dortmund midfielder could improve on that milestone if Southgate hands him a start against Iceland. Former captain and England record goalscorer Wayne Rooney is currently the youngest player to start a game for the Three Lions – but Bellingham can break that record if he is in named in the XI.