A tough assignment awaits England as they take on old foes Italy in Naples, so Gareth Southgate’s choice of Harry Maguire and Kalvin Phillips in this his starting line-up is a surprise to say the least.
In what’s expected to be a hostile atmosphere, the Three Lions will have to be at their very best to topple Roberto Mancini’s side.
To that end, he’s taking an almighty risk with both Maguire and Phillips.
Although the former has always proved reliable for the national side – and one can assume that his international form is largely why Southgate has again put his trust in the Man United defender – Maguire has looked anything but assured when playing for the Red Devils over the past few months.
All set to face Italy! ? pic.twitter.com/L6lPsqeRvi
— England (@England) March 23, 2023
Indeed, since the turn of the year he’s only played 90 minutes in the Premier League on two occasions according to WhoScored.
Phillips, meanwhile, has completed a full game just once in the entire 2022/23 season.
Southgate will surely be hoping that the likes of Bukayo Saka, Jack Grealish, Jude Bellingham and Harry Kane will have enough about them to ensure that his choices elsewhere in the XI don’t come back to haunt him.
From Kane’s perspective, just one more goal will give him the honour of being England’s all-time top scorer, and that should drive him and the team on to go at the Italians from the first whistle.