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While Alexander-Arnold is the youngest England player in the XI, he's by no means alone as Southgate went with youth against Belgium - at least in comparison to other England sides.

To change or not to change, that has been one of the big questions before England's final Group G game on Thursday against Belgium with last-16 qualification already assured.

On a stifling night in Bologna, Enzo Scifo hit the woodwork twice and John Barnes saw a goal chalked off (wrongly, as it happens) before the game eventually crept over into extra-time with the score still goalless. "There are players who have been in very demanding games so its very important for us to protect and give every player the best opportunity to be in the best condition in the knockout games".

When the World Cup groups were drawn last December, many England fans were anxious when they were matched up with Belgium.

"We're going to face tougher challenges in the next few games and at the moment we can't consider ourselves a top team until we start to beat one of those teams", said Southgate.

Anything less than a solid result against Belgium, however, will destroy any hopes already built by the players, who are eager to dispel any doubt in the national side that has gathered since an embarrassing group stage exit in the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, followed up by a shock exit to Iceland in the European Championships two years ago.

With the benefit of being the last teams to play in the group stage, both teams will have full knowledge of the knockout bracket by the time they kickoff at 6am - which may lead to the unusual situation of both teams attempting to lose the match.

Instead, Sweden and Mexico advanced to the last 16.

Explaining his decision to make eight changes to the team that thumped Panama 6-1 at the weekend, manager Gareth Southgate said: 'We are a team.

He added he was concerned about the prowess of England captain Kane, who is the tournament's top scorer with five goals so far.

"I think it will be an interesting game, a 50-50 game, and both teams are qualified so it will be a unusual game", said Fellaini, who plays in England for Manchester United, having made his name for another Premier League club Everton.

Romelu Lukaku is not involved from the start and Eden Hazard, older brother of Thorgan, is one less threat for Southgate's side to worry about.

Fabregas was recruited by the BBC for a punditry role during the first week of the World Cup, and football fans overall were impressed with his on-camera skills.

One man who's had his say on the big match is World Cup victor and Chelsea midfielder Cesc Fabregas.

If England are looking for omens, Belgium finished bottom of that very same group.

This will be the fourth meeting of the two nations in major tournaments.


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