England team news vs Croatia: Gareth Southgate to abandon year-long experiment with back three

Gareth Southgate is set to abandon his year-long experiment with a back three, returning to a back four for tonight’s Nations League game in Croatia.

England reached the semi-finals of the World Cup playing 3-5-2 but in Rijeka they will play with a 4-3-3 system, with Southgate opting to bring Kyle Walker, Eric Dier, Ross Barkley and Marcus Rashford into his side.

By dispensing with the extra centre-back, Southgate has allowed himself an extra forward player, meaning he will start Rashford and Raheem Sterling either side of Harry Kane up front. At the World Cup Southgate was left having to choose either Rashford or Sterling to partner Kane.

Southgate has also made two changes at full-back from the side that lost 2-1 to Spain last month. Walker replaces Kieran Trippier at full-back, returning to his preferred position after a year of frustration playing at centre-back. Walker played in the back three during the World Cup before losing his place there to Joe Gomez, but has now overtaken Trippier again. Ben Chilwell makes his first competitive start at left back.

With no Dele Alli or Jesse Lingard in midfield, Southgate has brought in Dier and Barkley, the Chelsea man making his first England start since Roy Hodgson was manager more than two years ago.

England: Pickford; Walker, Stones, Maguire, Chilwell; Dier, Henderson, Barkley; Sterling, Kane, Rashford


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