Liverpool defender Joe Gomez will start for England against Spain on Monday – after a glowing reference from Three Lions manager Gareth Southgate.
The 21-year-old will win his fifth cap in the Nations League game in Real Betis’ Estadio Benito Villamarin.
He will replace John Stones, who is suspended after his yellow card in the goalless draw with Croatia behind closed doors in Rijeka on Friday.
“Joe’s in really good form for his club,” said Southgate.
“In his matches for us, against Spain and Brazil, he has given really polished performances.
“He’s a young defender but a very good defender. He has got great athleticism and uses the ball well. I’m looking forward to seeing him in this game.
“It’s another opportunity to look at a couple of younger players. We’re slowly building a squad who are comfortable at this level.”
Spain top Group A4 in the inaugural Nations League having won their first two games, beating England 2-1 at Wembley in September.
Victory in Seville will be enough to see them win the group and book a place in the Nations League finals next June.
Harry Winks is likely to come in for Jordan Henderson, who is also suspended, while Kieran Trippier is in line to replace Kyle Walker at right-back.
Southgate is a big admirer of Tottenham midfielder Winks, who impressed on his debut in Lithuania in a World Cup qualifier a year ago before being sidelined with long-term injury.
“I think Harry can play as a deep-lying pivot or a number eight,” he said. “He’s very good at connecting the game, sees good pictures and his technique is solid.
“Harry’s less of a final-third player, but a builder of the game. He is technically a good player, composed, and has faced top opposition in Real Madrid and Barcelona in the Champions League. He has some experience of big matches.
“We were pleased with him against Lithuania. People might say it was only Lithuania but playing for England is as much about whether can you wear the shirt, and handle everything with that, as much as the opponent. In this game we have both – handling playing for England against a top opponent.”
Southgate wants England to learn the lessons of the loss to Spain at Wembley in September against a side on a high under new coach Luis Enrique, with thousands turning out in Seville to watch their final training session on Sunday.
He said: “We know their technical ability, but we have to cause them problems with the ball. We can’t just defend for 90 minutes. We were more comfortable in the last 30 minutes at Wembley, but we have to do that earlier in the game, be brave enough to use the ball well, and cause them problems.”
‘We know they’re a strong team’
Spain defender Cesar Azpilicueta says his side “know what to expect” when they play England.
“We know England are a very strong team,” said the Chelsea player.
“They reached the semi-finals of the World Cup. They have been working a few years together and play in a very good way. We know what to expect and England have to win if they want to qualify for the final four in June.”
After exiting the World Cup in the last 16 against Russia, Luis Enrique’s side has scored 12 goals in three games.
They thrashed Wales 4-1 in Cardiff on Thursday, with Paco Alcacer scoring twice and further goals from Sergio Ramos and Marc Bartra.
The best of the stats
- Spain have won each of their past four matches against England on home soil by an aggregate score of 6-0.
- England have won just three of their past 13 matches against Spain (W3 D3 L7), and just one of their past seven (W1 D1 L5).
- The last England goalkeeper to keep a clean sheet in an away game against Spain was Peter Shilton in March 1980.
- England’s last away win against Spain came back in February 1987 under Bobby Robson; Gary Lineker scored all four goals in a 4-2 win.
- Spain are unbeaten in each of their past 38 competitive home games (W34, D4), last losing to Greece in June 2003 – 5,609 days ago.
- England are winless in their past four competitive matches (D1 L3). They last went five competitive internationals without a win back in October 1992 under Graham Taylor.
- Spain’s Paco Alcacer has scored nine goals in five matches for club and country this season, averaging a goal every 27 minutes.
- Harry Kane has failed to score in his past six appearances for England, his joint-longest goalless run for the national side.