Nations League: England changes could open door for Ings

The Southampton striker is just one of those hopeful of featuring in Copenhagen on Tuesday.

Matthew Crist

A number of high profile absentees could hand Danny Ings his first England start against Denmark in the Nations League as a host of new faces look to seize their big chance.

Gareth Southgate’s side continue their Nations League campaign on Tuesday evening with the Three Lions boss expected to make changes to his side following Saturday’s narrow win over Iceland.

England emerged 1-0 winners in Reykjavik thanks to Raheem Sterling’s late penalty, but they almost threw the three points away when Joe Gomez conceded a spot-kick moments later – only for Birkir Bjarnason to blast his effort over.

To make matters worse they also had Kyle Walker sent off midway through the second half, meaning he will miss the clash with Denmark due to suspension.

This follows the news that Phil Foden and Mason Greenwood will not play after being found to have breached UEFA’s coronavirus protocols during the squad’s stay in Reykjavik.

The FA are still investigating the alleged incident, but Southgate has confirmed that Foden and Greenwood will head home in the latest off-field controversy to overshadow an England game.

Two weeks ago Harry Maguire had to be withdrawn from the squad after he was given a suspended jail sentence by a Greek court after being found guilty of assaulting a police officer, swearing, resisting arrest and bribery.

The Manchester United captain maintains his innocence and has lodged an appeal with the Greek court system, so with England without some of their brightest young talents, the challenge against Denmark has suddenly become a more difficult one.

Given Greenwood’s absence, the obvious candidate to step into his place is Danny Ings with the Southampton striker making only his second England appearance against Iceland as he replaced Phil Foden in the 68th minute and will now hope to make his first start.

He apparently required treatment after clashing heads with Atletico Madrid defender Kieran Trippier during a training session in Reykjavik but is set to be fit for selection if required.

The former Liverpool striker made his international debut against Lithuania back in October 2016 and has since used that experience as an incentive to add to that first cap he still keeps in his home.

“It was a reminder,” he said following his call-up for the Nations League double-header.

“It was something for me to work towards. I kept it in the house with me because I did not want to have just one cap. It is not on display, and when I got the call it was good to get it out, and hopefully I can add more in the future.”

Ings was the joint-second highest scorer in the Premier League last season with 22 goals for a Southampton side that endured a troubled start before climbing to 11th.

Kyle Walker’s suspension also opens the door for Liverpool’s Trent Alexander-Arnold or perhaps even Arsenal’s Ainsley Maitland-Niles, who will both be looking to fill-in at right-back while Conner Coady is also an option should England revert to a back-three.

“We’ve tried things in training across the week with a long-term view on different possibilities for us as a team,” said Southgate. “We have tried a three at the back earlier in the week. But we’ll make a decision on that tomorrow.”

Meanwhile, Phil Foden’s withdrawal means there is a vacancy in midfield too with Jack Grealish and Kalvin Philips eager to seize any opportunities that come their way as they look to make their international bow.

In goal, Jordan Pickford could make way for either Nick Pope or Dean Henderson if Southgate decides to let one of his back-up options stake their claim for the number one jersey.

Denmark lost to Belgium in their opening game at the weekend but there is little doubt that they pose more of a threat than Iceland.

The Danes are ranked 16th by FIFA – 23 places higher than England’s opponents on Saturday – and are entering a new era after Kasper Hjulmand, the former Mainz manager, took over from Age Hareide.

Former Tottenham favourite Christian Eriksen may have struggled to make an impact since joining Inter Milan last season but he remains a threat for his country, with 31 goals in 96 appearances.

Other familar faces include Leicester’s Kasper Schmeichel in goal, Chelsea’s Andreas Christensen in defence and Tottenham’s Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg at the heart of the midfield.

Gareth Southgate will also be aware that England’s opponents on Tuesday night were unbeaten in their previous 15 games before Saturday’s loss to Belgium.

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