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5 talking points ahead of England’s Nations League clash with Denmark

Gareth Southgate has endured a tough international break as England boss.
(Image credit: Steven Paston)

England face Denmark on Tuesday night in their second Nations League away fixture in the space of three days.

Gareth Southgate’s men beat Iceland 1-0 in Rekyjavik on Saturday but performances on the pitch have been overshadowed by off-field behaviour during this international break.

Here, the PA news agency looks at some of the major talking points ahead of the game in Copenhagen.

Foden and Greenwood sent home after Covid-19 breach

Mason Greenwood (left) and Phil Foden (right) were told to return home following a Covid-19 protocol breach.

Mason Greenwood, left, and Phil Foden were told to return home following a Covid-19 protocol breach (Mike Egerton/PA)

Southgate has already had to deal with Harry Maguire’s Greek court case, differing fitness levels among his squad as they ramp up preparations for the start of the domestic football season, a tough game in Iceland and the sending off of Kyle Walker. Add to that the fact he was forced to send home Phil Foden and Mason Greenwood after the pair flouted the bio-bubble in which England were operating due to strict Covid-19 regulations and the Three Lions boss must be waiting for this international break to end. He called the pair “naive” for their actions after allegations emerged in the Icelandic media on Monday that Foden and Greenwood had spent time with two girls during the trip, with media outlet DV publishing purported footage filmed by one of them.

Squad goals

Kyle Walker's red card in Iceland further depletes Southgate's squad.

Kyle Walker’s red card in Iceland further depletes Southgate’s squad (Brynjar Gunnarson/AP)

Southgate has only 19 outfield players to choose from for the game in Denmark. Such a pool would normally be of sufficient size but, given the lack of recent game time, he may now be unable to make the kind of changes he felt would be necessary. Captain Harry Kane looked off the pace in Iceland while the likes of Jadon Sancho and Foden also struggled to have an impact. Greenwood made a short cameo appearance off the bench and could have been in line for his first start, while it now remains to be seen just how much shuffling Southgate can do with his pack.

No Kane, no pain

Harry Kane struggled to make an impact for England at the weekend.

Harry Kane struggled to make an impact for England at the weekend (Brynjar Gunnarson/AP)

Kane’s late return to pre-season training at Tottenham may have played into an underwhelming performance by the skipper over the weekend. Despite having an early goal incorrectly ruled out for offside, Kane had a quiet afternoon and never looked like adding to his impressive England tally. But Southgate insists that his squad is not overly-reliant on Kane’s goals and it will be interesting to see, if he is rested in Denmark, who can step up and prove their manager right.

Three and easy?

Conor Coady has excelled in a back-three for club side Wolves

Conor Coady has excelled in a back-three for club side Wolves (Nick Potts/PA)

Southgate has hinted he may revert to a back-three for Wednesday’s game. The England boss led his team to the World Cup semi-finals with a three-man defence and has always been keen to have his squad well-drilled with more than one formation. With late call-ups Conor Coady and Ainsley Maitland-Niles well-versed in operating in such a system, it boosts the chances of either being handed their England debut if Southgate does opt to change shape.

Great Danes have Premier League bite

Christian Eriksen spent six and a half years at Tottenham before leaving for Inter in January.

Christian Eriksen spent six-and-a-half years at Tottenham before leaving for Inter in January (Adam Davy/PA)

Denmark have plenty of players based in England who they can turn to for advice on beating Southgate’s men. Leicester goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel is first-choice for his country, while defenders Jannik Vestergaard and Andreas Christensen turn out for Southampton and Chelsea, respectively. In midfield, Denmark boss Kasper Hjulmand can call on either new Tottenham man Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg or Brentford’s Christian Norgaard. But the best of the current crop and the most experienced player in Hjulmand’s ranks is former Spurs playmaker Christian Erisken, now of Inter Milan, who will be keen to show he still has what it takes to make an impact at the highest level.