11202017

Loftus-Cheek to start for England but keeper Butland out of squad

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Ruben Loftus-Cheek will make his England debut from the start in Friday’s friendly against Germany at Wembley.

The 21-year-old midfielder is on loan at Crystal Palace from Chelsea.

Boss Gareth Southgate said: “He’s a quiet lad, so I’m hoping he gets a lift in confidence from how we see him, the level we think he’s capable of.”

Southgate also confirmed that Tottenham defender Eric Dier will captain England for the first time.

“His approach to everything is very professional,” the manager said of the 23-year-old. “He hardly ever misses a game and plays in an unselfish manner.

“I think he can be even more of a leader than he currently is and I am hoping giving him this reward and responsibility will also bring even more out of him as well.”

Stoke goalkeeper Jack Butland pulled out of the squad on Thursday after breaking his finger in training.

Southgate will not replace the 24-year-old, who has returned to his club to be assessed by the club’s medical staff.

Six other players have withdrawn from the squad, including Tottenham striker Harry Kane and midfielder Dele Alli, Manchester City winger Raheem Sterling and Liverpool midfielder Jordan Henderson.

Chelsea midfielder Danny Drinkwater – who has won three caps – turned down a call-up because he did not consider himself fully fit.

Southgate was asked if the former Leicester player would get another chance before the World Cup in Russia in the next international break.

“I’ve no idea,” he said. “I would have thought so, but we might have other players back by then.”

Loftus-Cheek – who will play in an attacking central role as opposed to the wide position he plays for Palace – will become England’s ninth debutant in 13 games under Southgate. There are four more uncapped players in the squad – Everton keeper Jordan Pickford, Liverpool defender Joe Gomez, Burnley midfielder Jack Cork and striker Tammy Abraham, on loan at Swansea from Chelsea.

On Loftus-Cheek, whom he managed for England Under-21s, the manager added: “I saw [Palace manager] Roy Hodgson a couple of days ago. He knows that [the wing] is not his best position but he’s got to do a job for the team and that won’t do Ruben any harm, to be have the discipline defensively.”

Germany, who like England have qualified for the World Cup, will also be under-strength.

RB Leipzig left-back Marcel Halstenberg will make his international debut at the age of 26, having spent most of his career in the lower leagues.

Goalkeeper Manuel Neuer and defender Jerome Boateng are out injured, while midfielder Toni Kroos is a doubt with a stomach virus.

“It’s still a trial period this year. With the tournament in mind, I want to see not only those players who play regularly,” Germany boss Joachim Low said.

“We want to play a good game, the result is always important, but I also know that I want to experiment.

“It is an opponent who is absolutely on par; a team that has developed very well over the past two or three years.

“They are able to hit at high speed – they have fast players, the team is very well organised and attack early. It’s one of the best counter-attacking teams right now and we have to be prepared for that.

“We cannot believe that we can dominate England with a lot of possession. We have to be well organised and be able to switch (from defence to attack) quickly ourselves.”

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England defender John Stones is looking forward to the game – and the following one against Brazil on Tuesday.

The Manchester City centre-back said: “We’ve played Germany twice before, so we know a bit more about them. Obviously we’ve got a few Brazilians in the team at City, so you get a feel for it.

“But it’s kind of unknown territory, which I think is very exciting for me, personally.

“It’s one that is going to be a great atmosphere for the fans.

“We’ve got to go out there and show what we can do and put them on the back foot.

“I think with the players that we’ve got, the hunger that everyone’s got in their bellies, it’s a great occasion.”

MATCH FACTS

  • This is the 32nd meeting between these two countries, with both nations winning 13 games apiece (five draws).
  • Germany have scored in 13 of their past 14 internationals against England, only failing to score in their Euro 2000 match, losing 1-0 after an Alan Shearer strike.
  • Including the 1966 World Cup final, England have faced Germany/West Germany at Wembley on 11 previous occasions (W4 D1 L6) – Germany have won the past three in a row, with the most recent meeting coming in November 2013, with Per Mertesacker scoring the only goal.
  • Since that loss, the Three Lions have won 15 of their past 17 games at Wembley (D1 L1), with a current unbeaten run of seven (W6 D1).
  • England have won their past four internationals under Gareth Southgate, their longest run since October 2015 (five successive wins).
  • Germany have won their last seven internationals, their best winning streak since November 1995 – they have not won eight in a row since June 1980 (12-game run).
  • Joe Hart is set to make his 75th appearance for England, which would make him the joint second highest-capped goalkeeper, with just Peter Shilton (125) ahead of him.

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