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Gareth Southgate to ditch back three used during World Cup for Englands clash with Croatia

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The Three Lions are back in action on Friday night in the UEFA Nations League (Picture: Getty)

Gareth Southgate is expected to ditch the back three formation that was so successful at the World Cup and revert to a four-man defence against Croatia on Friday night.

The Three Lions are in Rijeka for a rematch of their semi-final at the World Cup, where they were defeated in extra-time, as they look to pick up their first win in the UEFA Nations League.

Croatia manager Zlatko Dalic is so confident going into the match that he has already named his starting XI, though Southgate refused to follow suit at his pre-match press conference.

England suffered a heartbreaking extra-time defeat to Croatia in Russia (Picture: Getty)

Whats the rules? We dont have to do it until an hour before? Well leave it with that, the England boss joked ahead of Fridays match.

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However, Southgate is believed to have been working on playing with a back four in training this week, meaning Kyle Walker will revert to his usual right-back slot and Kieran Trippier will drop out of the starting XI.

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Recent results have caused Southgate to rethink his setup – the Three Lions have lost to Croatia, Belgium and Spain since their last competitive win – while he has also been hampered by injuries.

Marcus Rashford is expected to start after netting against Switzerland and Spain, while skipper Harry Kane will lead the line despite not training.

Englands expected XI…

Southgate has called up several debutants – such as Jadon Sancho and James Maddison – though insists he will not name an experimental XI, with Ben Chilwell the only rookie to be handed a start.

Were here to try and get a result, so the team we play will be a team we believe in – whoever is ready to start. That doesnt mean were not going to play [the debutants], theres nobody in the squad thats here that were not thinking of putting into the team.

Jadon Sancho is expected to be named on the bench in Fridays clash (Picture: Getty)

Its not experimentation, its players we believe in. Players, okay, that in a lot of cases are relatively inexperienced at the highest level.

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But players weve enjoyed working with, players that have shown in training this week that they can handle this level and well pick a team that we think is the best one to win the game.

Counterpart Dalic was rather less secretive, saying: I can tell you the line-up: Livakovic in goal, Lovren and Vida at the back, Jedvaj and Pivaric at full-back. Kovacic, Rakitic and Modric [in midfield]. Perisic, Rebic and Kramaric as forwards. I think its a really good line-up.

More: England National Team

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