3 things England need to work out in Switzerland and Ivory Coast matches

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Here are three things Gareth Southgate needs to figure out during their international upcoming friendlies.

England are set for their first international friendlies since last summer after already qualifying for the 2022 World Cup during November’s international break.

Gareth Southgate has less than eight months to decide on the squad that will travel to Qatar and aim to bring home a trophy at the third attempt.

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Over the next week, the Three Lions will face Switzerland and Ivory Coast at Wembley Stadium, and Southgate will use the two matches to learn more about the new fresh faces that have made the squad and decide if some of his more experienced players still have what it takes to win England that long-awaited second World Cup.

The England boss included a number of youngsters in the squad such is Tyrick Mitchell, Kyle Walker-Peters and Conor Gallagher, while Man Utd’s Harry Maguire will have a lot to prove given the controversy of his inclusion in the first place.

Here are three things that Southgate and the England squad will have to figure out in their two friendlies...

Experience or youth?

The Euro 2020 tournament saw England feature a rather youthful side that saw the likes of Bukayo Saka, Phil Foden and Jude Bellingham compete, however when it came down to it, Southgate was able to rely on the older players such as Maguire, Kyle Walker and Raheem Sterling.

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This season seems to have seen a large number of youngsters outshine their more experienced counterparts in the Premier League and, as a result, offer Southgate a real selection dilemma.

If the future stars continue to impress and put on a good display in the upcoming friendlies, does he still rely on the old England reliables that have endured very poor club form?

Where will Saka fit in?

Arsenal’s Bukayo Saka has been a revelation this season and, while he featured the Euros, he has proven even more why he needs to be starting for England.

However, the likes of Mason Mount, Phil Foden and Raheem Sterling already have their places in the starting XI pretty much secured, so it is up to Southgate to figure out where Saka will fit in.

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He played on the wing during last summer’s tournament, however he featured in a left wing-back position in the Three Lions’ most recent outing against San Marino where he scored the 10th goal.

If shoe-horned in to a position that doesn’t suit his talents, both Saka and England could suffer.

To Phillips or not to Phillips

Leeds United’s Kalvin Phillips played an extraordinary tournament alongside Declan Rice last summer and will be vying for a place in the midfield once again ahead of the Qatar World Cup.

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Of course, the Leeds United star has been out for most of the season injured and hasn’t been included in the England squad, but Southgate needs to consider the options in midfield.

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He clearly loved the Phillips and Rice combination during the Euros, but the England boss needs to take Phillips’ absence as an opportunity to assess the credentials of Jude Bellingham, James Ward-Prowse or Conor Gallagher.

Arguably, he also needs to avoid playing it safe and selecting Jordan Henderson, because while he is certainly an exceptional player, he shouldn’t be guaranteed an automatic spot in the team - just like Maguire.

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