International friendly [Preview]: Netherlands vs England

England make the trip to Amsterdam to take on the Netherlands in an international friendly on Friday night. Three Lions manager Gareth Southgate is in the progress of handpicking his recruits for the World Cup, and the friendlies versus the Dutch and Italy could give a clear idea about his players ahead of the global tournament.

On the contrary, Netherlands are in a rebuild phase after having missed out on making this summer’s World Cup in Russia. Prior to that, the Oranje failed to qualify for a 24-team European Championship in France, and former Everton boss Ronald Koeman has now been tasked with the job of turning around the country’s fortunes.

Players to watch for:

Marcus Rashford – England: The 20-year-old is regarded as one of England’s hottest prospects of the current generation, with his speed and finishing skills quickly making him a fan favourite for club and country. With Harry Kane sidelined with an ankle problem, the Manchester United forward is a strong contender to lead the line, having also impressed with his hold-up play, which has improved over the past 18 months. Rashford found himself as a regular substitute with United following the turn of the year, but he made his chances pay of late, having contributed a quick-fire brace against Liverpool.

Virgil van Dijk – Netherlands: Despite the home advantage, the Dutch could find themselves under pressure on the counter attack, and this could bring Van Dijk into the game. The Liverpool centre-back has been named as the country’s new captain, and his concentration at the back could define the friendly. The 26-year-old is known as a tough-tackler, but his ball retention skills are likely to be important against a Three Lions side which possess pace from the likes of Rashford and Raheem Sterling. England are also productive with their defenders from set-piece situations and Van Dijk is likely to have task of cutting down the service whilst trying to benefit from the same in the opposite end.

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