England’s national team has been dormant for several months now. But the Three Lions’ Euro 2020 preparations will begin in earnest later in March.
In two key warm up matches, Gareth Southgate’s men will host Italy on the 27th of this month, before welcoming Denmark just four days later.
International friendlies often provide little in the way of pointers moving forward. But just ahead of a major tournament, they can be indicators when the serious games begin. For England, these are useful fixtures. But they will have to tackle them without a number of key individual players.
Injuries Galore For England
Captain and leading striker Harry Kane was the first to enter the treatment room. The Spurs man damaged his hamstring against Southampton on New Year’s Day. Reports remain conflicting, but what we do know is Kane will certainly miss the majority of the Premier League season, and he could be out for the rest of the campaign.
He is expected to return ahead of Euro 2020 but the same optimism isn’t shared by supporters of Marcus Rashford. The Manchester United attacker has suffered a stress fracture of the back and news stories suggest that Gareth Southgate will not consider Rashford for selection unless he returns before the end of the domestic season.
The reports are more positive in relation to Raheem Sterling. Manchester City’s influential winger suffered a setback of his own in February but returned ahead of schedule to boost his side’s run in. The news is, therefore, mixed but how will these three players affect England’s chances of claiming their first major trophy in 54 years?
If we take a look at the current international football betting markets from bet365, we find that England are narrow favourites at odds of 9/2. The outright win market is tight and it’s close between the Three Lions, Belgium, France, the Netherlands and Germany.
Of those sides, France are, obviously, world champions. While England’s impressive campaign at Russia 2018 ended when Belgium edged out Southgate’s men in the third-place playoff. Can we expect a similar outcome, with France the team to beat, or can England justify that favourites berth?
Fresh and Firing
Kane, Rashford and Sterling combined to score no fewer than 23 of England’s 37 goals in Euro 2020 qualifying. So Southgate will be anxious to get all three fit and in the squad.
Injuries are never welcome but can the issues suffered by the trio actually help to tip the balance England’s way in a tight betting market? Fans and pundits often complain about the absence of a winter break in English football but those three players have just given themselves an extended rest. Their respective clubs have been involved in European club competitions and they’ve all gone deep into domestic trophies. So as a result they have all avoided a packed fixture list.
Does the freshness factor mean that this is England’s year? If so, this could be the time to cash in on those outright win markets for Euro 2020.