Absent friends: England and Italy combined XI of missing talent
England (2/1 with Coral to win) and Italy’s upcoming friendly tussle in Turin will undoubtedly be a star-studded show piece full of fireworks.
However, these two European giants will both be without a number of big names for their highly-anticipated encounter.
So, Coral writers put their thinking caps on to come up with a combined XI of the best Three Lions and Azzurri stars missing in action. What a tantalising team they would make!
Read on to find out which talents will be missed but still made our grade:
Formation 4-4-2 diamond
GoalKeeper: Fraser Forster
The Southampton stopper may be behind Joe Hart in England’s pecking order, but could have been a genuine contender for the number one jersey, if not for an ill-timed injury. Having become a crucial cog in the Saints’ stubborn rearguard, a fractured knee cap could see the custodian ruled out for up to a year.
Right back: Mattia De Sciglio
Still only 22, adaptable AC Milan defender De Sciglio is highly-rated in his homeland and capped 16 times already. After bursting onto the San Siro scene in 2012 with poise and grace beyond his years, the Rossoneri academy product has shown teething problems, but is still expected to become an essential part of Italy’s future.
Centre back: John Stones
Stones should be counted among the most promising centre halves in European football, with his composure and eye for a pass making his a puzzling omission from Roy Hodgson’s senior squad. However, at age 20, the Barnsley-born Evertonian still has plenty of time to make his mark, though blooding him before Euro 2016 would be a wise move for the Three Lions.
Centre back: Angelo Ogbonna
Powerful and pacey Ogbonna was also overlooked, despite playing regularly for giants Juventus this campaign. The former Torino captain could certainly offer Italy something different in defence, but must up his overall game before being brought back into the fold.
Left back: Leighton Baines
Third place in the Premier League assists chart, Baines is one of a rare breed of full backs able to exert real influence on attack. After linking up well with his compatriots down the left against Lithuania, the sidelined Toffees talent’s width will be a big miss.
Take a peek at Baines’ set piece prowess below:
Right central midfield: Daniele De Rossi
Roma stalwart De Rossi is not often left out of Italy squads and, with the Azzurri’s lack of midfield options, it is a bold move by Antonio Conte to leave the out-of-form midfielder twiddling his thumbs. Could coach Conte’s gamble backfire? Hopefully this international snub will be just the motivation De Rossi needs to return to his best.
Defensive midfield: Andrea Pirlo
There are few players blessed with playmaker Pirlo’s vision, invention and intelligence, and the Old Lady pass-master’s absence has certainly been felt for Juve. The evergreen orchestrator has dictated play against England on numerous occasions, so the Three Lions must be relieved not to see his name on the team sheet.
Relive Pirlo’s cheeky penalty chip against England here:
Left central midfield: Jack Wilshere
Injury-prone Wilshere had shown promise at the base of Hodgson’s diamond in a deeper-lying role earlier this season, but has missed much game time since then. Currently preparing for his Arsenal comeback, the once trumpeted creative maestro has much to do to regain his place. Time waits for no man, but Wilshere, 23, has too much talent to be wasted.
AM: Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain
Another top Gunner struggling with fitness, exciting Oxlade-Chamberlain’s beguiling mix of strength, skill, speed and determination would surely have seen him thrown into the fray to torment the Italians. The 21-year-old is the perfect player to provide forward thrust for the Three Lions in France 2016 (where England are 12/1 to lift the trophy), injuries allowing.
ST: Mattia Destro
Roma-owned dangerman Destro fell out of favour at the Stadio Olympico, despite striking 13 times in 20 Serie A outings last season. Now attempting to start afresh on loan at AC Milan, the six-capped striker has struggled to settle, grabbing just two goals in seven.
Watch Destro at his best with a sensational strike from midfield:
ST: Daniel Sturridge
Sturridge pulled out of England’s squad with a thigh problem, but could pay the price as all of Harry Kane, Wayne Rooney and Danny Welbeck were on target in his absence. If the lethal Liverpool forward, still regaining form after a long lay-off, is to make the plane to France, fitness issues must be ironed out, or else Sturridge is in danger of being left behind by his peers.
Ben Foster; Calum Chambers; Domenico Criscito; Riccardo Montolivo; Claudio Marchisio; Adam Lallana; Danny Welbeck