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Which England players could force their way into Southgate’s plans against Belgium?

Daniel Anwar | 28 June 2018

Three Lions set to rotate for final group game

England couldn’t have asked for a better start to their World Cup than the one they’ve enjoyed. It’s been a very welcome change from their recent history at major tournaments.

But they’ll face their first real test against Belgium on Thursday evening. England are 13/8 slight favourites to win and get nine points from nine.

Both sides have sealed their place in the last-16. This game will settle who tops Group G, although with the way the draw is shaping up, the runner-up may well have an easier path through the knockout stages.

With qualification secured, both managers are set to make changes. They need to keep their squad players fit and happy if they’re going to go all the way.

Which England players could make a big impact and play their way into the starting XI for the knockout stages?

Danny Rose

Before the tournament, Danny Rose admitted he thought he was lucky to be included in the 23-man squad, given he only made 10 Premier League appearances for Tottenham Hotspur last season.

But now he’s in line to start against Belgium, he’ll want to make the most of his chance.

Ashley Young has been preferred in the left wing-back role for the first two games. But he’s right-footed, which means he tends to cut inside.

Rose would give the team greater width and he’s quicker than Young too. A good performance in Kaliningrad would give the manager something to think about.

Gary Cahill

The Chelsea captain is expected to come in for Harry Maguire on the left side of the back three. It’s a position he knows very well, having operated there for Chelsea over the last two seasons.

Maguire has been a real threat from set pieces, but he’s looked a little shaky in possession at times. Better teams could exploit that, particularly if they’re pressing high.

Cahill’s experience at the top level should bring added composure to the backline against Belgium.

Marcus Rashford

There was speculation Marcus Rashford could replace Raheem Sterling in last week’s 6-1 win over Panama, but the Manchester City star kept his place.

Sterling was lively throughout that game, but he again failed to score. He’s now gone 21 games for the Three Lions without finding the net – a run stretching back three years.

Rashford made an instant impact when he came on in the opening game against Tunisia. The young forward would make a strong argument for starting in the last-16 if he delivers against Belgium. He’s 9/4 to score on Thursday.

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