England vs Italy – Match preview and team news

The international season gets started tonight for England with a friendly against the team that knocked them out of the European Championships, Italy. The two sides ran out to stalemate in the summer with the Italians winning on penalties after a miss from Ashley Young and a save from Gianluigi Buffon from Ashley Cole’s penalty, the latter of whom won’t be at the game tonight.

Both sides are looking to experiment with the future and are using this friendly as a way to gauge the younger faces of their international squads against strong opposition.

England have left Steven Gerrard, John Terry, Ashley Cole and Wayne Rooney out of their squad as Roy Hodgson has a look at those he may not be too familiar with or who missed out on Euro 2012 such as Frank Lampard – who will captain the side – and Michael Carrick.

There is also the chance of senior debuts for Ryan Bertrand, Steven Caulker, Jake Livermore and Tom Cleverely as Hodson starts to introduce the younger players to the English set up.

Jack Butland will be hoping for his first cap as well after Joe Hart was ruled out due to injury. The Birmingham youngster had a solid few weeks playing for Team GB at the Olympics with many eyes now looking to the 19-year-old as the future of the England no.1 jersey.

Italy have taken a similar path to England, the inclusion of Mattia De Sciglio, Stephan El Shaarawy and Mattia Perin show a younger edge to the Azzuri, giving their Euro 2012 runners-up squad a break from duty.

There are a few familiar faces such as Daniel De Rossi, Alberto Aquilani and Federico Balzaretti all lining up for Cesare Prandelli. Mario Balotelli was scheduled to play but had to withdraw due to conjunctivitis, which also kept him out of the Community Shield at the weekend.

England fans will no doubt be pleased to know that Andrea Pirlo has been left at home for this game after his dominance in the quarter final earlier this summer was pivotal to England’s demise.

The game in Berne tonight will be the first time the two teams have met in a friendly for 10 years, the last time Italy ran out 2-1 winners at Elland Road thanks to two goals from Vicenzo Motella after Robbie Fowler opened the scoring. Frank Lampard is the only player from that game to be playing in tonight’s fixture.

In overall head to head, Italy have won 9 games to England’s 7 but equally as likely tonight is a draw with the two teams having played 7 of them in 23 games against each other.

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