Netherlands vs England Preview: Southgate looking to step up Russia preperations against Koeman's new-look side

Gareth Southgate will be eager for his England side to step up their preparations with the summer's World Cup tournament drawing ever closer, as they travel to Amsterdam to take on the Netherlands who will begin a new era under the watch of Ronald Koeman.

Looking to get the new era off on the right foot

Having been one of the world's most famous international sides for a number of years, the Netherlands have suffered quite the fall of grace since their third-place finish in the last World Cup back in 2014.

Since they have failed to qualify for the last two major international tournaments including this summer's tournament in Russia, with their failure seeing the end of Danny Blind's tenure in charge.

Koeman took the role he has longed for back in February a bit ahead of his own schedule having ended his Premier League tenure in disappointment with his sacking from Everton, the clash with The Three Lions will be his first and though he stated he enjoyed his time in England it was time to focus on a "different project".

“I’m really happy to be the Holland coach,” Koeman stated in his pre-match press conference. “I respect and admire the Premier League."

"I had a great time and everybody knows how it finished for me at Everton," the coach added. "It was a great three and a half seasons in England and now it’s a different project.”

Could be an interesting prospect

It was another successful qualifying campaign for The Three Lions to book their tickets to Russia, but Southgate will be desperate to break the curse held over England in terms of knockout football with his first crack at an international tournament.

The clash is one of four that England have to prepare for the summer's tournament with Italy coming to Wembley Stadium next week, but head into this clash off the back off two goalless draws against Germany and Brazil respectively and having not beaten Oranje since the famous 4-1 win back at Euro 96.

One thing that Southgate can continue to take credit for is his injection of young players into his squads with three uncapped players coming in, and Southgate stated that his young side could be an interesting prospect in Russia.

"We can surprise people," the coach stated. "We're a country that at the last World Cup didn't get out of the group and we know what happened at the European Championships."

"The average age of the squad is around 25," Southgate added. "So we know that we're a work in progress."

Team news

Koeman is clear to make his own mark on the international team as he named five uncapped players in his side, it included the hot prospect Justin Kluivert son of Patrick who has set the Eredivisie on fire at the ripe age of 18.

The big news has been the announcement of a new international captain, with Liverpool's record signing Virgil van Dijk being named as the successor to Manchester United defender Daley Blind.

A big miss for Southgate will be the absence of midfielder Jack Wilshere who has been left at home following a knee injury, joining Ryan Bertrand who pulled out of the squad earlier in the week with a back problem.

Jamie Vardy will be Southgate's out-and-out option up front with Harry Kane being absent through injury, Southgate also put an end to the much talked about goalkeeper debate confirming that Jordan Pickford will start between the sticks.

The Netherlands will host England at the Amsterdam ArenA on Friday, March 23 with kick-off at 7:45pm GMT.