ENGLAND’s opening World Cup group opponents Iran scraped a 1-0 win at home over world No142 Nicaragua.
Iran scraped a narrow victory over a team outside Fifa’s top 100Credit: EPA
England boss Southgate will be pleased to see Iran falteringCredit: AFP
However, their preparations for the Qatar winter tournament haven’t gone to plan as they played out a tough 90 minutes against Nicaragua.
Attacker Mehdi Torabi scored the only goal of the game to see off their No142-ranked visitors.
And the next game Iran play will be against Tunisia on November 16 before facing Euro 2020 runners-up England on November 21 inside the Khalifa International Stadium.
The result will be music to Three Lions boss Gareth Southgate‘s ears.
Southgate named his 26-man World Cup squad on Thursday with a wealth of attacking talent.
England have struggled for goals since the summer’s Nations League fixtures.
And so Southgate has called upon England’s most in-form playmaker James Maddison.
The one-cap star will feed the likes of Bukayo Saka, Phil Foden, Harry Kane, Raheem Sterling and Marcus Rashford in attack.
He will also provide a good rotational option for mainstay Mason Mount.
Southgate said on Maddison: “A lot of people were suggesting he wouldn’t be with us but we decided a couple of weeks ago that he would, but we wouldn’t tell him that then.
“He is playing really well and he is a good player, we have always said that.
“He has earned the right and we think he can give us something slightly different than others we have.
“At various stages there have been considerations and debates about James.
“Ahead of the Euros I don’t think he was in contention and then probably a fair debate about including him in September.
“But he is playing well as any attacking player in the country.
“He has always been up against good players, he is playing exceptionally well.
“Not enough players play forward these days. He can score goals from distance.”
Southgate was asked how the Leicester star reacted to the call and he said: “He was delighted.
“I had some very difficult calls emotionally at the other end of the spectrum, so it was nice to give myself a bit of an enjoyable end to that.”
England’s 26-man squad for the World Cup
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