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Is Gareth Southgate abandoning England’s three-man defence in favour of a new formation?

The rumoured line-up to play Croatia suggests a change of plan

3-5-2 has served England well in the last year.

Gareth Southgate’s preferred formation was instrumental in the Three Lions’ run to the World Cup semi-finals.

But it seems the likeable gaffer is about to ditch his three-man defence in favour of 4-3-3.

Change of plan?

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Change of plan?

The probably line-up for tonight’s game against Croatia in Rijeka features Kyle Walker, John Stones, Harry Maguire and Ben Chilwell in a back four.

Ross Barkley is expected to start in midfield alongside Eric Dier and Jordan Henderson while Harry Kane is flanked by Raheem Sterling and Marcus Rashford up front.

One man who will happy with this change is Kyle Walker.

The Man City defender has been playing as a right-sided centre-back for England and he’s made no secret that prefers to play as a full-back/wing-back.

*Triple H entrance music*

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*Triple H entrance music*

If England do permanently switch to a back four, what will it mean for Kieran Trippier?

The Spurs right-back was arguably England’s best player during the World Cup but 4-3-3 only leaves one place for Trippier and Walker to fight over.

Stones and Maguire’s ball-playing ability will allow England to continue playing out from the back while Walker will fulfil the role he occupies for City.

Trippier’s best form has come in an England shirt in recent times

Trippier’s best form has come in an England shirt in recent times

Defence hasn’t really been England’s problem; that’s midfield.

There is a sense that we are all waiting for a creative playmaker to emerge and solve the puzzle.

James Maddison, Phil Foden and several others have been tipped as the missing piece.

While Southgate would love Spanish-style No10, he has recognised the need to be proactive with a change in approach.

Many fans want Dier as a squad player rather than a regular starter

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Many fans want Dier as a squad player rather than a regular starter

Dier-Henderson-Barkley in midfield is a combination that may not inspire fans.

While Barkley is a more attacking option, he’s not the kind to provide a defence-splitting pass.

Compare England’s midfield to Croatia’s (Ivan Rakitic-Luka Modric-Mateo Kovacic) and it lacks inventiveness.

Southgate’s primary task now is to build a balanced midfield capable of softening the harm done by the lack of a natural No10.

First though, revenge over Croatia is at hand…