Netherlands v England Preview: Gareth Soutgate's Side Step Up World Cup Preparations
England travel to the Netherlands on Friday as Gareth Southgate’s side step up preparations for the World Cup.
England come into the game on the back of a pair of 0-0 draws with Germany and Brazil in November, and have not beaten the Oranje since the famous 4-1 win at Euro 96.
Southgate has named a young squad for the latest round of fixtures, including three uncapped players, and the England coach believes his side could be an interesting prospect in Russia.
“We can surprise people, we’re a country that at the last World Cup didn’t get out of the group and we know what happened at the European Championships,” he said.
“The average age of the squad is around 25 so we know that we’re a work in progress.”
The Netherlands have endured a fall from grace since their third-place finish at the World Cup in 2014, failing to qualify for both Euro 2016 and this year’s tournament in Russia.
But Friday’s game will mark former Everton and Southampton manager Ronald Koeman’s first game at the helm since he was announced as manager in February.
England travelled to Holland on Thursday without Jack Wilshere, who has been left at home after picking up a knee injury, while Ryan Bertrand pulled out of the squad earlier in the week with a back problem.
Harry Kane is missing with an ankle injury he suffered for Tottenham in their 4-1 win over Bournemouth, but Jamie Vardy, the squad’s only other out-and-out striker, is fit. Southgate also confirmed that Jordan Pickford would start in goal.
Ronald Koeman’s first Netherlands squad includes 18-year-old striker Justin Kluivert – son of former striker Patrick – for the first time while Liverpool defender Virgil Van Dijk has been named as the new captain.
Gareth Southgate, who oversees just his 15th game as England manager (W7 D5 L2), will be the Three Lions’ 13th different manager to face Netherlands. In the other dugout, latest manager Ronald Koeman is the first Netherlands boss to face England in his opening game in charge.
England are unbeaten in six matches (W4 D2), after their 2-3 defeat to France back in June 2017, although each of their last two games have ended nil-nil. They last recorded three consecutive nil-nil draws back in November 1989.
The Oranje have won eight of their last nine matches (L1), winning the last five in a row. They last won six consecutively in June 2014.
England will be without the injured Harry Kane, who has been directly involved in a higher share of the Three Lions’ goals under Gareth Southgate than any other player (38% – 8/21).
Jordan Henderson has provided four assists since Southgate assumed control of the England national team, twice as many as any other player.