Three Lions squad prepare for friendly at Wembley on Tuesday night
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The England squad were training at Tottenham Hotspur’s training ground on Tuesday ahead of their friendly match against Ivory Coast at Wembley Stadium.
Gareth Southgate’s side ran out unconvincing 2-1 winners against Switzerland on Saturday, a game that saw captain Harry Kane score his 49th goal for England, bringing him level with the great Bobby Charlton. Wayne Rooney’s record of 53 goals is now within touching distance for the 28-year-old Spurs attacker.
On Tuesday, Kane and Co will face a player who has previously played for the England senior side in Crystal Palace attacker Wilfried Zaha.
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Zaha was born in Abidjan but brought up in London from the age of four. He played in two friendlies for the Three Lions in 2012 and 2013 – making his debut in the same match against Sweden as Raheem Sterling – before switching allegiance to his country of birth in 2016.
“Wilf is a good player and when we had him with the Under-21s he was in the middle of a difficult spell with Manchester United and then on loan with Cardiff,” Southgate told reporters ahead of the game against the Ivorians.
“I remember going to a hotel, Palace were playing away, and meeting with Wilf but at that point he had made his mind up. I can understand it … he had been four years without playing.”
Southgate, however, says it is impossible to consider how much of an impact Zaha could have had if he had decided to continue to play for England.
“It’s hard to say what his role might have been with us,” he added. “Raheem has been a key part of our team for a long period, Jesse Lingard had done a fabulous job and at the start we had Adam Lallana, who was our player of the year for the first 18 months or so.
“He’s a talent, Wilf, and a massive part of Palace’s ability to have stayed in the league and now the progress there making.
“He’s a good player playing at a high level every week. He’s a slightly different player to the ones we’ve got. He felt the Ivory Coast was the route to go and I totally understood that.”
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Updated: March 28, 2022, 12:35 PM