England boss Gareth Southgate plans to utilise his squad in Thursday's match with USA

Gareth Southgate takes his squad into their penultimate game of a memorable year on Thursday, when USA are the visitors to Wembley. The Three Lions boss wrote for the match programme ahead of the game...

Wednesday 14 Nov 2018
Gareth Southgate speaks to Three Lions midfielder Harry Winks in training at St. George's Park

Firstly, this match is a good game for us to be able to utilise the squad and find out a bit more about some of the players we have.

With an important game coming up against Croatia in the Nations League in three days’ time, we want to balance that with looking at some different things while also giving game time to more members of the squad.

England v USA
  • Wayne Rooney Foundation International
  • 8pm, Thursday 15 November 2018
  • Wembley Stadium connected by EE
  • Live on Sky Sports

It also gives us the opportunity to properly mark Wayne Rooney’s England career. When it was first proposed to me, as a manager, it was something I was keen to do.

I don’t think we’ve always been very good at honouring our former players and since I’ve been in charge, we’ve tried to invite people to speak to the team. We’ve had the likes of John Barnes and Alan Shearer who have come in to do this and we’ve also invited former players to present first shirts to any debutants and I know what that’s meant to them.

You don’t get a chance to do these things very often, so this is an opportunity for everyone to pay tribute to someone who is not only our record outfield player in terms of caps but also our record goalscorer, which is an incredible achievement.

We face the USA at a time when it appears they are, like us, rebuilding their senior squad with both countries bringing younger players into their group. While we are building on the back of our own World Cup campaign this summer, unfortunately they didn’t have the opportunity to go to the Finals this year.

Southgate could name Jadon Sancho in his line-up to face USA on Thursday

But they’ll now be trying to get their team ready for the next one and it’s an opportunity for their younger players, who I’m sure will relish coming to play at Wembley.

For me, the last two months have been really positive. We want that to continue in November, both on Thursday and against Croatia on Sunday, to make sure we end an exciting year for the England team really well.

We know that we have to prove ourselves every time we go on the pitch and we’ve still got to keep building. We’re up to fifth in the world rankings now but we want to be the number one team and we’re working hard to get there.

You can read Gareth’s full article in the official match programme for the USA game, which can be ordered online or picked up around Wembley on Thursday for just £5.

Tickets for Thursday's game are still available, but Sunday's match with Croatia has sold out.

By Gareth Southgate England manager