Jamie Vardy expected to start for England against Costa Rica as Gareth Southgate rings the changes

Jason Burt
Vardy will get his chance to shine at Elland Road with the World Cup just over a week away - REUTERS

Jamie Vardy is expected to start England’s final World Cup warm-up match against Costa Rica.

The 31-year-old Leicester City striker will be given his chance at Elland Road with manager Gareth Southgate considering changes from the team that beat Nigeria at Wembley Stadium on Saturday.

Jordan Henderson is also expected to start, or be involved, in the fixture after joining up with the squad late following his involvement in the Champions League Final with Liverpool. 

Similarly Southgate is expected to give a debut – either as a starter or from the bench – to Trent Alexander-Arnold. Given the 19-year-old right-back has not yet played for his country at senior level it would be sensible to allow him some minutes on the pitch against Costa Rica, ranked 25th in the world by Fifa, who will also be in Russia. Southgate may consider the same for goalkeeper Nick Pope.

It remains to be seen whether Southgate perseveres with the 3-5-2 formation – rather than 3-4-3 – he appears intent on using and whether this means Vardy will be partnered by Marcus Rashford or one of either Harry Kane or Raheem Sterling.

Trent Alexander-Arnold, here featuring for the U21s, could also make his England senior debut Credit:  PA

Vardy did not come on against Nigeria – Rashford and Danny Welbeck were used – but will earn his 22nd cap against Costa Rica. It is still expected that Kane and Sterling will be Southgate’s strike partnership at the World Cup.

After the Nigeria game Southgate conceded that he will not be making many changes to the starting XI from that fixture when England kick off their World Cup campaign against Tunisia in Volgograd on June 18.

“There might be a couple of players we want to see in certain positions against Costa Rica,” Southgate said.

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“We have to pin down what we have learned (against Nigeria), what we do not need to see any more of and what exactly do we need to see ahead of the game on Thursday.” 

Although it would appear that Gary Cahill has edged ahead of Harry Maguire to play on the left of the three-man defence Southgate said it was possible they may feature together. Maguire is expected to play against Costa Rica.

“I would not necessarily say it is either/or,” he said. “Cahill has experience of big matches and maybe they could both play because there is competition for places right across that back line. Maguire has great composure, he is a player we really like.”

After Thursday England do have one more match before flying to St Petersburg on June 12 – although that will only be a game between the squad at St George’s Park on Monday. “The purpose of that game is physical as much as anything because we want to make sure we hit the levels seven days before our first match,” Southgate said.

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