England take on Iceland in their final Nations League group encounter on Wednesday | Pool/Getty Images
Rumour has it the Viking Thunder Clap still picks up on British seismographs, four years after it was introduced to the embarrassed ears of English supporters who’d just seen their country succumb to the 34th-ranked side in the world on the global stage.
Nevertheless, it’s fair to say England have drifted away from the whole ‘being embarrassed’ lark since Iceland – population: 330,000 – toppled them in the first knockout round of Euro 2016.
An image which haunts England fans… | Catherine Ivill – AMA/Getty Images
However, with Gareth Southgate struggling to find a balance despite being blessed with a bucketload of talent – in attack and… at right-back – the Three Lions have failed to kick on following their impressive 2018 World Cup campaign.
After falling to Holland in the semi-finals of the maiden Nations League last summer, defeat in Belgium on Sunday means England won’t be at next October’s finals. Thus, Wednesday’s clash with Iceland serves as a mere morale booster ahead of a four-month international hiatus. Thank God.
Here’s who Southgate should pick for England’s upcoming clash.
Harry Maguire served his one-game suspension against Belgium | Pool/Getty Images
Dean Henderson (GK): With Nick Pope starting against Ireland and Jordan Pickford in Leuven, it’s the turn of Henderson – who replaced Pope for his debut last Thursday – to earn a start in a game that means little.
Kyle Walker (RCB): The versatile Manchester City defender was pretty poor in the Belgium defeat but is undoubtedly Southgate’s best option to play on the right side of the back three. Expect him to retain his place.
Harry Maguire (CB): A reckless pair of yellow cards against Denmark last month meant Maguire was suspended for Sunday’s clash but is available once more for Wednesday. The United skipper is England’s premier centre-back option and has enjoyed a resurgence in recent weeks.
Michael Keane (CB): Even though it makes sense, it just seems unlikely for Tyrone Mings to start all three of England’s November internationals. Keane was left out of the trip to Belgium but started against Ireland, and could well return here.
Mason Mount has been quietly impressive in this international break | Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images
Ainsley Maitland-Niles (RWB): With Reece James suspended and Kieran Trippier earning 90 minutes on Sunday, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see Maitland-Niles start on Wednesday.
Declan Rice (CM): The West Ham star was typically combative in the double pivot in Leuven and should retain his place with Southgate’s midfield options dwindling.
Mason Mount (CM): We know Southgate is a big Mount fan, and after he performed well in a deeper role against Ireland it wouldn’t be surprising to see him start there again back at Wembley against weaker opposition than Belgium.
Bukayo Saka (LWB): The Arsenal starlet replaced the injured Ben Chilwell on Sunday and is a sure bet to start in his place against Iceland. The teenager has once again looked bright in his two recent outings for his country.
Jack Grealish starred in England’s defeat on Sunday | Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images
Jadon Sancho (RW): A goal and a fine performance against Ireland was exactly what Sancho needed after a slow start to the season in Germany. Southgate’s decision to bring him on at wing-back on Sunday was…weird and you can expect him to return to a more familiar role in this one.
Harry Kane (ST): Alongside the Brummie Johan Cruyff, Kane performed admirably in Leuven but was in desperate need of a Son Heung-min-like figure to stretch the Belgium defence. The skipper will start against Iceland, just like he did four years ago in Nice.
Phil Foden (LW): Those hoping to see more of Jack Grealish may be disappointed on Wednesday night, with it perhaps making more sense to rest the brilliant Villa captain to the bench so Phil Foden can have a run out on the left side of the attack, where he’s featured a number of times this season for Man City.