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And there are concerns in the England camp about the condition of the pitch. It was relaid six weeks ago and report are that it has sand, stones and shingle poking through. With England already qualified, they certainly won’t want to risk any injuries. “That’s why you want to make sure you’re qualified well in advance,” Gareth Southgate has said. “We said that right at the start of the qualifying campaign, you’re never quite sure what you’re going to get away from home.”

Italy played on it in September, complained, and their FA got an apology from their North Macedonia colleagues. Italy’s Ciro Immobile complained about the pitch in Skopje by saying: “Playing on a pitch like this could be dangerous. We knew it was going to be a tough game, but on this field it becomes even tougher.”

Declan Rice was among the England players doing press conferences ahead of the match. He talked about moving from Arsenal to West Ham. “When the transfer was going through I was very nervous because of the price tag. You’re a human being bought for 105 million pounds, it doesn’t feel very normal. But that was because of what I’d done at West Ham, what they valued me at. It’s 100 million pounds, it’s a lot of money, I could understand the pressure that comes with it. Not only the pressure you put on yourself but there’s an expectation of being bought for that much money we need to see performances straight away. They have invested a lot of money in me, I need to prove why I can go there and change things.”

Hopefully he and the rest of the England guys get through tonight unscathed. There have also been some concerns pre-match about North Macedonia fans being naughty so we will keep an eye on that as well.

This match is on Channel 4 from 7pm and kick off is at 7.45pm. Join us for the team news at about 6.45pm and we will take it from there. Hopefully it will be a better watch than the recent game against Malta.

Incidentally, it does not look too bad judging from this. The locals could be forgiven for wanting to make a point.



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