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England host Australia in a sold-out friendly at Wembley on Friday evening.
Here, the PA news agency takes a look at five of the main talking points ahead of the international encounter.
Some Ashes revenge for England?
There is a long sporting rivalry between these countries and revenge would be sweet after an epic Ashes summer ended with the urn returning Down Under. Jonny Bairstow’s controversial stumping by Alex Carey particularly stuck in the craw during a dramatic 2-2 series draw that saw emotions run high. England have the chance to exact a slither of revenge under the arch on Friday, when Gareth Southgate expects the sporting rivalry to “add an extra edge” to the occasion.
…or will there be a famous second Socceroos win?
This will be the first time these nations have met at Wembley, with the only previous two encounters on English soil played at the Stadium of Light and Upton Park. Wayne Rooney made his debut in the latter friendly in February 2003, but it was Australia that won 3-1 on the night. It is the only time England have lost in seven meetings with the Socceroos and Graham Arnold’s side, ranked 27th in the world, would love nothing more than to repeat the feat on Friday.
A chance to experiment for Southgate
Last month’s friendly against Scotland ended a run of 16 successive competitive matches for England, covering last year’s Nations League campaign, the 2022 World Cup and Euro 2024 qualification. Southgate said before the game that over-experimenting at Hampden Park would be “ridiculous” but still managed to try a few things as his side ran out 3-1 victors. Lewis Dunk made his second international start – five years after his first – in central defence alongside Marc Guehi, while Aaron Ramsdale got the nod in goal. Southgate will be tempted to look at several areas of the squad again this time, including uncapped Levi Colwill at left-back, returning Jarrod Bowen in attack and Trent Alexander-Arnold in midfield.
Can Watkins or Nketiah stake claim to be Kane deputy?
Harry Kane’s goalscoring feats are as impressive as they are well documented. Already the highest scoring man in England’s history, he will match Sir Bobby Charlton’s 23-goal international haul at Wembley if he scores against Australia. But Southgate may well be tempted to try a different striker given their inability to find a reliable back-up to the Bayern Munich player. Callum Wilson fulfilled the role in Qatar but is injured this time around, with in-form Aston Villa striker Ollie Watkins receiving his first call-up since March 2022. Uncapped Arsenal striker Eddie Nketiah, England Under-21s’ all-time top scorer, is another man looking to push his claim to be Kane’s deputy ahead of the Euros.
Israel-Palestine victims to be remembered
Black armbands will be worn and a period of silence observed before Friday’s friendly to remember the innocent victims of the conflict in Israel and Palestine. The Football Association has confirmed its plans to pay tribute, having come under pressure to illuminate the Wembley arch in the colours of the Israeli flag following attacks by Hamas militants over the weekend which were followed by Israeli bombardment of the Gaza Strip. Flags, replica kits and other representations of nationality not linked to England or Australia will not be permitted inside Wembley.
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