LONDON (BBC)L England manager Gareth Southgate’s squad for friendlies in the Netherlands and at home to Italy has an experimental look – but preparations for Russia are entering the red zone with less than 90 days to the World Cup.
Southgate’s selection is understandably designed to study all options but also hints at serious issues he must still resolve before England’s opening group match against Tunisia on 18 June in Volgograd.
In short – he needs some answers from the two forthcoming matches because England do not play again until 2 June.
So what are the areas that will be causing Southgate and England greatest concern as the countdown to Russia continues?
As Joe Hart’s star fades after three major tournaments as England’s first-choice goalkeeper, it is hardly the ideal situation that such a key position in Southgate’s team is still up for grabs.
And it is a sign of the current uncertainty that Hart, past his best and excluded from West Ham United’s team for large parts of this season on loan at London Stadium from Manchester City, is included as one of four keepers for the two friendlies.
Confusion over the goalkeeper at a major tournament rarely ends well – as Fabio Capello discovered when he started with Robert Green in South Africa in 2010, only for him to make the mistake that gifted USA’s Clint Dempsey an equaliser in the opening game, squandering two points. David James started their next match against Algeria.