Five main talking points from Gareth Southgate's pre-Netherlands press conference

Thursday 22 Mar 2018
Gareth Southgate's England face the Netherlands at the Johan Cruyff Arena on Friday night

England will face the Netherlands on Friday night as Gareth Southgate’s side continue their preparations for the World Cup in Russia this summer.

The game against Ronald Koeman's troops is the first of two internationals this month, with England also hosting Italy at Wembley next week.

Here are five things we learned from Southgate’s press conference in the Dutch capital ahead of tomorrow's clash at the Johan Cruyff Arena in Amsterdam.

Netherlands v England
  • International match
  • 7.45pm, Friday 23 March 2018
  • Johan Cruyff Arena, Amsterdam
  • Live on ITV

Injury strikes again

Jack Wilshere has not travelled to the Netherlands for Friday night’s game due to a knee problem.

It is the latest in a series of injury-setbacks for the Arsenal midfielder, who was hoping to play his first game for his country since Euro 2016.

Southgate said: “He felt some tendinopathy in his knee, a problem he’s had before, but it’s nothing too serious.

“We had the option to bring him here and treat him here and let it settle, or keep him back at base and we decided to leave him there.”

Wilshere could return for Italy friendly

While Southgate said the 26-year-old was disappointed to pull out of the squad for the trip to Amsterdam, the England boss is hopeful he will have recovered for the Italy game.

“Hopefully, over the next couple of days, it will settle down and there’s a good chance he is with us Saturday, but we just have to see how he responds,” said Southgate.

“It’s something that, in the past, has settled down very quickly and if so, then we’re pretty hopeful that will be the case.

“It’s not a specific injury. It’s just something lots of players have. Tendon areas, over time, sometimes flare up and they just need to settle for a couple of days.”

Pickford starts in goal

One of the key selection issues ahead of the World Cup is who will start in goal, with Jordan Pickford, Nick Pope, Jack Butland and Joe Hart all in contention for the No. 1 jersey.

Everton’s shot-stopper has been given the nod for the friendly against the Netherlands, despite strong competition from in-form, but uncapped, Burnley keeper Nick Pope.

On Pickford’s selection, Southgate said: “He’s a very agile goalkeeper - quick around his goal - and he’s capable of making big saves.

Southgate on England’s style of play

When probed further about the selection of Pickford, Southgate reiterated his desire to see England play out from the back, paying tribute to the Everton keeper’s distribution.

“His distribution is excellent, he’s an outstanding distributor of the ball with his feet, which is a key part of how we want to play.

“It’s a great opportunity for him and he played really well against Germany in November. It’s a good chance for us to see him in another international game.”

Jordan Henderson returns as captain

The Liverpool captain will skipper the Three Lions against the Netherlands, appearing alongside Southgate for the press conference ahead of the game.

Henderson has taken on the armband again in the absence of Tottenham’s Harry Kane, who is sidelined with an ankle problem.

He will come head-to-head with his Liverpool teammate Virgil van Dijk, after the defender was named as the Netherlands' new skipper.

Tickets for England v Italy at Wembley next Tuesday (8pm) are still available and selling fast priced from £20 for adults and £10 for kids – click here to book now.

By FA Staff