England have arranged friendlies against the Netherlands and Italy in March as they step up their preparations for the World Cup. Gareth Southgate’s side will face the Netherlands in Amsterdam on March 23 before hosting Italy at Wembley four days later. Both the Netherlands and Italy have failed to qualify for next year’s tournament in Russia, but Southgate expects them to provide strong opposition as he finetunes his squad. The Netherlands finished third behind France and Sweden in their qualification group.
Italy will miss the World Cup for the first time since 1958 after losing 1-0 on aggregate in their two-legged play-off against Sweden.England are also set to play two further friendlies before the World Cup, but the opponents won’t be selected until after the finals draw, which takes place on December 1 in Moscow. AFP