Aaron Ramsdale set for England start as Gareth Southgate plots Italy changes

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 (REUTERS)
(REUTERS)

Arsenal goalkeeper Aaron Ramsdale is in line to start one of England’s final two Nations League games this month.

Jordan Pickford has played both of England’s matches so far during this four-game stretch, but Gareth Southgate has confirmed he is set to be rested.

England host Italy on Saturday and then Hungary three days later, with Southgate keen to use one of the games to see what his other goalkeepers can offer as there are just four matches until the World Cup in Qatar later this year.

Pickford has established himself as England’s No1, but Ramsdale has emerged as his strongest contender and Nick Pope is also in the squad after a good end to the season with Burnley.

“I’m not going to give everything away, but we will have a look at another goalkeeper at least once in this period,” said Southgate. “We felt that was the right way to approach this set of games and we also know that we need to try and give those boys more experience as well.”

Southgate has confirmed he is likely to make changes for Saturday’s match with Italy, which is being played behind closed doors at Molineux.

Players are coming off the back of a long season and Southgate is wary about them being hit with injury.

Captain Harry Kane, who is three goals off Wayne Rooney’s goalscoring record for England, wants to start both games but could be rested so Roma striker Tammy Abraham can get a chance to impress.

Jack Grealish and Jarrod Bowen will also hope to start after performing well off the bench during Tuesday’s 1-1 draw in Germany.

 (The FA via Getty Images)
(The FA via Getty Images)

West Ham midfielder Declan Rice is due a rest and that could open the door for Conor Gallagher or James Ward-Prowse.

In defence, Chelsea’s Reece James should come in at full-back and centre-backs Fikayo Tomori and Marc Guehi are expected to start one of the final two games.

“I think we will [make changes] because I think you have seen right across Europe – France changed 10, Spain changed eight, Portugal changed seven,” said Southgate.

“So this is quite a unique set of games where teams are thinking about player welfare to a degree, freshness, but also they are preparing for a World Cup because they know what’s coming and what they haven’t got in terms of friendlies ahead of the tournament.

“So strategically it’s a bit of a unique situation and I think you are seeing it right across Europe.”

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