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Gareth Southgate explains dropping Arsenal and Chelsea stars for Wales clash

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England boss Gareth Southgate has explained his team selection for the World Cup clash against Wales after dropping Arsenal forward Bukayo Saka and Chelsea star Mason Mount.

Having selected the same starting XI in the first two games against Iran and USA, Southgate rung the changes for Tuesday’s group game against Wales.

Kyle Walker, Jordan Henderson, Marcus Rashford and Phil Foden all came into the starting line-up at the expense of Kieran Trippier, Mason Mount, Bukayo Saka and Raheem Sterling.

England will progress to the last-16 of the World Cup if they avoid avoid a four-goal defeat by Wales, who need to defeat the Three Lions and hope USA and Iran draw in the other Group B fixture.

Explaining his team selection against Wales, Southgate said: ‘We think [Phil Foden and Marcus Rashford] can cause Wales problems and we felt it was important to get some freshness in the team as well.

‘They have both trained really well and we’re looking forward to them playing tonight.

‘Kyle [Walker] is ready to start now and we think it’s good to get him in the team. We want to get the result tonight that takes us into the next round. For Kyle to get some football will be helpful.

‘We haven’t talked about it being a derby. There has been a lot of noise around us and around this game but we have to focus on our football and make sure our work rate and endeavour is higher than the opponent.’

Manchester City right-back Walker, who is making his 71st cap for England, was only deemed fit enough for a place on the bench against Iran and USA.

Liverpool captain Henderson came on as a second-half substitute against USA and will now get a chance to make an impact from the off against Wales.

Manchester United forward Rashford scored in England’s 6-2 thrashing over Iran and starts in a front three alongside Foden and Harry Kane.

Southgate was criticised for not bringing on Man City star Foden during the USA stalemate, with Gary Neville questioning how England’s ‘best player and biggest talent’ could be overlooked.

There have also been calls to rest Kane amid concerns over his fitness and form but the Tottenham captain retains his place against Wales as he looks to open his account for the tournament.

Discussing England’s World Cup clash with Wales, Jermaine Jenas told BBC Sport: ‘Both teams go into this game wanting to find a performance for different reasons: Wales probably to sign off with one, and England to take one forward into the knockout stages.

‘This feels like the end of an era for this Wales team but if Gareth Bale, Aaron Ramsey and Joe Allen – who are all in their 30s and unlikely to play in another World Cup – want a big send-off, then this provides it.

‘It doesn’t get much bigger than playing England at a World Cup and that makes them dangerous opposition, regardless of the fact they are extremely unlikely to get out of the group.

‘It’s not just those three – the whole team will be desperate to do better here after couple of disappointing displays in Qatar.

‘For them to find the performance they want will be fully down to emotion, their fans and knowing what it means to the story of their career, rather than being able to tactically put something together to beat England, because on that level they are nowhere near as good.’

Wales boss Rob Page added: ‘This is a must-win game. We’ve got to rely on the other result as well. If this is our last game, then at least we got up and had a go. It’s a brave decision but it’s one that we want to go out and have a go.’


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