Man City star ‘to be handed’ England debut v North Macedonia as Gareth Southgate gives verdict
England finish their Euro 2024 qualifying campaign with a trip to Skopje.
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Rico Lewis is set to be handed his England debut tonight (Monday) when the Three Lions take on North Macedonia, according to reports.
Gareth Southgate’s side wrap up their Euro 2024 qualifying campaign with a trip to Skopje, although their place at next summer’s tournament has already been secured. It's something of a free hit therefore, for England, who will finish top of Group C regardless of the result on Monday, with the Three Lions winning the reverse fixture 7-0 at Old Trafford in June.
But Southgate is facing a left-back conundrum ahead of the game, following Kieran Tripper’s withdrawal from the squad on Sunday. With regular choices Luke Shaw and Ben Chilwell missing due to injury, England don’t have a recognised option to select on the left of defence.
The Daily Mail report that Lewis will start in that role against North Macedonia, although he has tended to operate at right-back or in midfield for club side Manchester City. Southgate even acknowledged last week how adaptable Lewis can be.
“He is an option [at left-back],” said the Three Lions boss. “He’s a versatile player. I’m really pleased with how he’s trained, he’s settled really well. He’s very comfortable with the ball. He’s played there a few times - he’s played everywhere for City.”
Asked whether he sees Lewis’ long-term future in midfield, Southgate replied: “Quite possibly, that’s where he sees himself at the moment. He’s very comfortable receiving in those areas.
“It’s hard to say because City are quite unique in how they play. At junior level, he’s come through their academy at full-back, then this hybrid midfield role since then. Sometimes with young players it’s great for their development to play different positions and in a couple of years maybe that will be a little bit clearer.”
Lewis was a late call up to the England squad along with Ezri Konsa and Cole Palmer, with the teenager selected for the first time at senior level. The City star was an unused substitute as England beat Malta 2-0 at Wembley on Friday, and could line up alongside club team-mates Kyle Walker, Kalvin Phillips, Jack Grealish and Phil Foden against North Macedonia.