Kyle Walker is eyeing European Championship qualification and “a little bit of payback” when England host Italy.
Tuesday’s sold-out qualifier will be the first time these sides have met at Wembley since the Azzurri pipped Gareth Southgate’s men on penalties in the Euro 2020 final.
The nations have met in Wolverhampton, Milan and Naples in the intervening 27 months but their reunion under the arch naturally brings memories flooding back from England’s agonising near-miss.
Walker admits the chance to put that ghost to bed adds a little extra, but the main focus is getting the point they need to seal Euro 2024 qualification with two games to spare.
“Listen, we fell short on that night,” the long-serving England right-back said.
“This is the first time they’re coming back to Wembley, so hopefully we can go out there and put a good performance on and maybe get a little bit of payback.
“I think you learn from occasions where you’ve been in finals and lose finals and setbacks, and you go on and achieve something great.
“We get a draw and we go through, so it’s about managing the game.
“Obviously, first and foremost, it’s about going out and putting a performance on and winning.
“But I won’t be ashamed if it’s 0-0 and we’re in the Euros and we’re going to represent my country at the finals.”
Walker was sat next to Southgate at the pre-match press conference and echoed the England manager’s sentiments as they look to reach a fourth major tournament under him.
“Ultimately, the first objective is always to qualify for the tournaments,” Southgate said.
“Our performances earlier in the group have put us in a really strong position.
“The first thing we want to do is to play well and win the game, but we know if it’s the 87th minute and we’re level then we don’t need to lob the goalkeeper into the box at the end of the game.”
Southgate says they have learned from what happened in the Euros final and their moments since, with all eyes now on the kind of “nights you want to be involved in”.
“Experience,” the 57-cap former defender said of the difference in his side. “Experience of winning big matches, consistent performances.
“We’ve been ranked in the top five in the world now since 2018, so I don’t think there’s been any other period over the last 30-40 years where that’s been the case.
“These boys are consistently producing big nights, memorable nights, good performances, exciting performances in general and we want to keep doing that.”
Southgate has a full 25-man squad to select from on Tuesday evening as England look to seal progress from Group C ahead of November’s matches against Malta and North Macedonia.
Decisions over players struggling for club game-time like Harry Maguire and Kalvin Phillips have been mulled over before facing Italy, so too how best to use John Stones.
The Manchester City centre-back made his first league appearance after a hip injury off the bench before this camp and was then brought on in Friday’s 1-0 friendly win over Australia.
Marc Guehi deputised alongside under-fire Maguire in England’s last qualifier against Ukraine and the Crystal Palace centre-back offers a strong alternative if Stones is unable to start.
“John, we’re working closely with his club in terms of his recovery,” Southgate added. “He’s been out a long time, so we’ve got to keep assessing him.
“Marc is doing really, really well. He’s played with great maturity in the two games last month.
“He’s a very calm player, positionally excellent.
“At times he might not catch the eye in the way that some other players do because he’s in the right place, so he’s not having to tear around and cover for something that he’s got wrong.
“He’s composed with the ball, very good mentality, so we think he’s developing really well.”
Published: by Radio NewsHub