Raheem Sterling set to start England opener as Gareth Southgate keeps faith in Man City star

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Raheem Sterling is set to be given the nod to start England’s Euros campaign.

England boss Gareth Southgate is expected to use a back four and Manchester City forward Sterling as part of a front three.

Sterling has been sweating on his place despite helping City with the Premier League title and Carabao Cup final but he has even admitted he has not been certain to start.

But Southgate looks set to go for experience with Sterling appearing to be winning the battle to start alongside top scorer Harry Kane.

The other big decision is in defence and Tyrone Mings is favourite to start alongside John Stones with Harry Maguire still missing as he recovers from an ankle ligament injury.

Raheem Sterling has been disappointing this season but is still set to start for England against Croatia
(Image: POOL/AFP via Getty Images)

Mings and Stones have never played together before but Southgate believes Mings did enough in the friendlies with Austria and Romania that if he starts then the defence will be able to handle Croatia.

England assistant boss Steve Holland has admitted that the coaching staff have known their starting line-up since before they arrived at St George’s Park for this week’s final build-up but also insisted that they must find the right balance.

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Holland said: “This is not fantasy football. It is nice to play that game, but you can’t just throw four or five players together. What that team showed is that if you try to cram too many in you don’t even get the best of the individuals that if you play with fewer, they can provide.

“So our challenge is clear, we have to find the right balance. That will differ from game to game and I think that will look different in the first minute than it does in the 90th.

“I’ll be completely honest. You are 75-80 percent there going back a reasonable period of time, days not weeks, but you do have to go off your eyes. Seeing how players present on a day to day basis is influential.

“We don’t just ignore what we see in the training sessions. So although we were fairly clear right up until the end of the week you keep an open mind on that. In the end you hope that you make the right choices, but we are very clear on the direction of travel for Sunday.”

England's probable XI: Pickford; Walker, Stones, Mings, Chilwell; Rice, Phillips, Mount; Foden, Sterling, Kane.

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