Croatia vs England preview: Young England side look to pick up first points in the UEFA Nations League
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Croatia vs England preview: Young England side look to pick up first points in the UEFA Nations League

Gareth Southgate's side will be looking for revenge after their World cup heartbreak, despite the game being played behind doors.

Aaron Hindhaugh

England will be hoping to get some form of revenge against Croatia, the team that eliminated them from the World Cup during the summer, in their UEFA Nations League meeting in Rijeka. 

The game will be a first for the majority of the players as Croatia serve a two-game penalty from UEFA as a swastika appeared to be imprinted into the pitch before their game against Italy two years ago.

That game was already being played behind closed doors because of racist chants from the Croatian fans against Norway.

Revenge on the cards

All England fans will still remember that 2-1 defeat only 93 days ago when Croatia came from behind to send England home from the World Cup.

However, this could be the perfect time to play Croatia with the game being played behind closed doors and a potential World Cup hangover.

The Three Lions will be ready to show what should have happened in Russia and get the win against a well drilled and organised Croatian side.

A must-win game

After the Three Lions lost their opening group game against Spain during the last international break Gareth Southgate has told his players these two games are must-win games to avoid relegation.

This means that Southgate is set to name his strongest team possible this includes World Cup Golden Boot winner Harry Kane despite him not training for the full session on either Monday or Tuesday.

This will be England's first senior international game played behind closed doors for 998 games and Jordan Pickford is confident England can use this to their advantage.

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"It would be nice to get one over them"

The England stopper told the Daily Mail: "I think it gives us the upper hand going away from home and when they need their fans, they haven't got them."

"It is going to be very different, I played in Croatia for Everton and I know how hostile their fans are."

Southgate will be hoping his side will be motivated enough to win for respect and the three points without the England Barmy Army cheering them on.

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A fresh squad

The gaffer has pretty much a full squad to pick from with only Danny Rose and Alex McCarthy pulling out of the squad since the players met up for training.

It is expected that Southgate is going to name his strongest side possible for both games to avoid relegation from the top tier of the UEFA Nations League, with one surprise inclusion expected.

Harry Winks is expected to start for the Three Lions after playing back-to-back 90 minutes for Spurs recently, as he strives to get over his fitness problems from the last two years.

Winks could start ahead of his Spurs teammate Eric Dier as he experiences a recent dip in-form for Spurs and Winks is playing some great football at the minute.