England v Ivory Coast
Live on Sky Sports Main Event
After Saturday’s 2-1 victory over Switzerland, Gareth Southgate is likely to give some of the England squad’s fringe players their chance to shine in Tuesday’s friendly against Ivory Coast.
For those hoping to force their way into the England team between now and this winter’s World Cup in Qatar there is everything to play. Southgate is an open-minded coach, keen to pick players in form.
With several England players who starred at last summer’s Euro 2020 – Kalvin Phillips, Jack Grealish, Marcus Rashford among them – struggling for club form or fitness, opportunities are there.
On Friday, FIFA will make the draw for the World Cup so England will know their group opponents. That’s when things will start to get real – even if the World Cup is still eight months away – for England who, at 8.88/1, are the third favourites to go all the way.
Only favourites Brazil 6.611/2 and holders France 7.87/1 are a shorter price.
Watkins to seize his chance
Harry Kane will get a rest tonight and that should give an opportunity to Aston Villa forward Ollie Watkins who has, according to reports, impressed Southgate in the training over the past week.
I’ll back Watkins to score any time as the first part of the Bet Builder.
Ivory Coast pushed France all the way on Saturday and were only defeated 2-1 thanks to a late goal. They have decent players including three who will know their opponents well – Crystal Palace forward Wilfred Zaha, Arsenal’s Nicolas Pepe and Maxwel Cornet of Burnley.
For that reason, as well as England’s problems in defence (Southgate confirmed Harry Maguire would start), I can see Les Elephants getting a goal at Wembley and I’m going to back Yes in Both Teams to Score?
As I’m expecting an England win, we will need over 2.5 goals in the match, if the above bets is to land.
As Paul Higham points out in his match preview, England have won six and drawn one since their defeat to Italy on penalties in the Euro 2020 final.
With that in mind, as well as the fact Ivory Coast failed to make even the play-offs for Qatar qualification, it would be a surprise if England don’t win.