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Three England stars who must take their chance against Belgium

Marcus Rashford, Eric Dier and Danny Rose could all play on Thursday night.

Three England stars who must take their chance against Belgium

Gareth Southgate is expected to make changes for England’s final Group G game against Belgium and several players will be hoping to seize their chance.

With a place in the knockout stages already guaranteed, we take a look at three players who could start in Kaliningrad on Thursday.

Marcus Rashford

The 20-year-old Manchester United striker staked his claim for a place in Southgate’s starting line-up in Russia with a brilliant strike in England’s final warm-up match against Costa Rica.

Rashford has scored only three goals in 20 appearances for England, but has made only eight starts and there have been widespread calls for him to feature more regularly in a Three Lions shirt.

He appeared to have lost some of his swagger under Jose Mourinho at United last season, with the general consensus being too many restrictions had been placed on an exciting talent, who made his first senior England appearance aged 18.

Rashford at his best is an exciting, rare commodity. Technically accomplished, pacey and fearless. He has the ability to unlock the best defences and is considered a more natural goalscorer than Raheem Sterling, who he is likely to replace against Belgium.

As demonstrated against Costa Rica at Elland Road, he also has an eye for a spectacular goal.

Eric Dier

Eric Dier, right, has captained both Tottenham and England
Dier, right, has captained both Tottenham and England (Owen Humphreys/PA)

Dier is unlucky to have made just one brief cameo appearance – as a stoppage-time substitute against Tunisia – so far in Russia, but remains central to Southgate’s overall gameplan.

The Tottenham midfielder, 24, is another player likely to start against Belgium and it remains to be seen whether he replaces Jordan Henderson or Ruben Loftus-Cheek in the engine room.

Dier has become Mr Dependable for both Tottenham and England in recent seasons. He is also Mr Versatile. Comfortable at the heart of defence or in a midfield role protecting the back three, it will be no surprise if he gives Southgate another selection dilemma for the knockout stages.

England’s passing out from the back has been sloppy at times in both group matches and against better opposition Dier’s accuracy and consistency could prove invaluable.

Midfield team-mate Henderson has picked up for England where he left off for Liverpool last season, but he ran a kilometre more than any other player during Sunday’s win over Panama and Dier could give him a timely rest.

Danny Rose

Danny Rose has made 18 senior appearances for England
Rose has made 18 senior appearances for England (Mike Egerton/PA)

Rose stepped off the bench to replace Kieran Trippier for the last 20 minutes against Panama in Nizhny Novgorod on Sunday and such was England’s dominance had little to do.

The Tottenham defender, 27, was England’s natural choice at left wing-back before the emergence of Ashley Young in that role this season and with good reason.

His technical ability, pace and all-round athleticism mark him out as one of the Premier League’s outstanding defenders, while Rose’s desire to get forward adds real bite to England’s attacks down the left.

Danny Rose, centre, could add more balance to England's defence
Rose, centre, could add more balance to England’s defence (Owen Humphreys/PA)

Rose has overcome long-term injury and depression to get back to his best in time for the World Cup and is capable of turning in the level of performance needed to regain his place in the starting line-up.

Apart from being a converted winger, Manchester United’s Young is right-footed and many observers feel Rose, naturally left-footed, will add better balance to England’s line-up.

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