Southgate eyeing surprise starting choice for key Nations League trip to Croatia

Gareth Southgate is considering starting with Tottenham’s Harry Winks against Croatia.

England boss Southgate has seen his options decimated by injuries after already losing Dele Alli and Jesse Lingard and wants someone to play alongside Jordan Henderson in midfield.

Southgate rates Winks highly and has been pleased to see his return to form and fitness after winning back his place in Spurs’ midfield.

The Three Lions will field their strongest possible line-up in Friday’s away game here in Rijeka and in Spain three days later, as relegation from the top tier of the new Nations League — England lost their opening group game at home to the Spanish last month — would be a serious blow.

Striker Harry Kane again did not train for the full session on Tuesday at St George’s Park, but wants to play both this wwek’s matches despite fears of too much of a workload.

Southgate has warned some of the younger members of his squad they will have to work hard and earn their stripes before getting caps. The message was hammered home in a team meeting at St George’s Park after he made a raft of new call-ups including James Maddison, Mason Mount and Jadon Sancho.

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But any ideas Southgate will experiment and just throw kids in has been quickly dismissed as he insisted to his players they need to win both these games.

Nations League relegation could potentially give them a tougher group in Euro 2020 qualifying. That draw is staged in Dublin in December.

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