GARETH SOUTHGATE is set to ditch five at the back for England’s World Cup opener.
GettySterling is set to keep his place on the left of a front three[/caption]
Saka is the favourite to get the nod on the right ahead of FodenRichard Pelham / The Sun
SunSport understands Southgate will stick with NINE of the eleven who started against Italy in last year’s Euros final by going with a 4-3-3 formation.
Declan Rice will anchor the midfield with his best pal Mason Mount and Dortmund’s teenage sensation Jude Bellingham sitting ahead of him.
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Skipper Harry Kane will lead the attack while Jordan Pickford will start his third major tournament as England’s No1 keeper.
Southgate deployed England with four defenders instead of his usual trusted five in all but TWO of their seven matches at the Euros.
However, he reverted to the more pragmatic approach against both Germany and Italy – something he may well do again if England go deeper into the tournament.
Meanwhile, Southgate confirmed on Sunday that his players will take the knee before the clash with Iran.
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The Three Lions dropped the gesture in recent Nations League clashes.
But players want to show their support for Black Lives Matter on the biggest stage, following criticism of Qatar’s human rights record.
Southgate said: “We have discussed taking the knee. We feel we should.
“It’s what we stand for as a team and have done for a long period of time.
“We understand in the Premier League, teams decided to only do it for the big games, the big occasions. We feel this is the biggest.
“We think it’s a strong statement that will go around the world to young people in particular to show inclusivity is important.”
Meanwhile, England captain Kane hinted the Qatar tournament could be his final World Cup.
The Tottenham striker said: “You can’t take anything for granted in football.
“I was lucky to play in the 2018 World Cup, in football a lot can change. You have to appreciate these moments.
“A great blend of experience and youth, in life you have to take opportunities that come your way. This is another step.
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“In four years who knows where I will be or where the team will be.
“It is about now. It will be hard and it will be a big challenge but I’m ready for that challenge.”
GettyMaguire is expected to start against Iran despite recent criticism[/caption]