With the European Championship just a few weeks away attention inevitably turns to international action this weekend, and England will be in action at Wembley against a resurgent Turkey. It’s the first of three warm-up games for Roy Hodgson’s squad, with Australia and Portugal to come over the next few weeks.
Hodgson had to field plenty of criticism after naming his provisional 26-man squad on Monday (which England manager hasn’t), but it was not entirely unpredictable. The surprise omission perhaps was Arsenal’s Theo Walcott, but team-mate Jack Wilshere returned to the fold after a belated comeback from injury towards the end of the season. Leicester’s Jamie Vardy and Danny Drinkwater both made the initial squad along with the surprise inclusion of Manchester United’s Marcus Rashford.
Fixtures have dictated that both teams will be without some influential players. Man United’s trio of Smalling, Rooney and Rashford will be on duty on Saturday in the FA Cup final, so won’t be available, while the Liverpool contingent are unlikely to be in contention after playing the Europa League final on Wednesday night. That means Clyne, Lallana, Henderson, Sturridge and Milner will probably sit this one out.
What that does give Hodgson the opportunity to do is test the rest of the squad in what will be a good game against a good standard of opposition. Kane and Vardy can both be expected to start, and early signs point to a diamond formation in midfield with those two partnering each other up top. There are likely to be starts in midfield for the Spurs duo of Dier and Alli, while the likes of Wilshere, Drinkwater, Delph and Townsend may get the opportunity to stake their claim for a place in the final 23-man squad. At the back John Stones will almost certainly start alongside Gary Cahill, with Danny Rose expected to fill the left back slot.
Turkey will also be missing key players with Barcelona’s Arda Turan on duty in the Copa del Rey final, and Borussia Dortmund’s Nuri Sahin set to play in the German Cup final. Despite those two not making the game, this is still a strong Turkey side spearheaded by experienced Galatasaray striker Burak Yilmaz.
The Turks effectively knocked Holland out of European qualification, finishing third behind Czech Republic and Iceland, and qualifying automatically as the best third-placed side. They beat all three of those teams in the latter stages of qualifying, including a very impressive 2-0 away win in Czech Republic. Currently they are on a run of 13 games unbeaten with three draws and ten victories.
Surprisingly Turkey have never scored a goal against England in ten meetings. The Three Lions have won 8 and drawn 2 of those ten matches, with an aggregate score of 31-0. The last five home internationals against the Turks have yielded five wins and 20 goals scored with none conceded.
The last time they met however, was in 2003, when they played out a 0-0 draw in Turkey, so it’s dangerous to read too much into those stats. Turkey have certainly made a mark over the last couple of years through qualifying for the Euro’s and they need not be underestimated.
England were unbeaten from the end of the 2014 World Cup through to the end of Euro qualification, a run which garnered 12 victories and just 2 draws. Since then they’ve had a mixed bag of friendly results, losing 2-0 in Spain before beating France 2-0 at Wembley and defeating Germany 3-2 in that memorable away game. That was followed up with something of a surprise 2-1 home defeat to Holland though, which brought a sense of perspective.
Both Vardy and Kane will be looking to rubber-stamp their places in the starting line up, and both will be keen to find the back of the net. England are likely to dominate possession for much of the game and should be capable of creating chances. At the other end the Three Lion’s defence hasn’t looked the most water-tight against decent sides even at full-strength, so there are reasons to believe Turkey will also be capable of creating chances. It must also play on their minds that as a nation they have never scored against England, and that’s another motivating factor for them to get on the scoresheet.
Jamie Vardy has had the season of his life and he appeals to score the first goal at +400 with Coral
The Leicester striker found the net in each of his last two internationals against Germany and Holland, and perhaps more than Kane he needs to persuade Hodgson that he’s worthy of a place in the first eleven when the tournament starts. You can guarantee he’ll be doing everything within his power to get on the scoresheet, and with his pace and finishing ability he’s the most likely to get on the end of any chances England create.
England v Turkey – Over 2.5 Goals
Sunday 22nd May, 17:15 GMT
Jamie Vardy to score the first goal
Sunday 22nd May, 17:15 GMT