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England tees-up Netherlands and Italy friendlies

Gareth Southgate will get the opportunity to test his players against high-class opposition ahead of the FIFA World Cup in Russia.

England is to face Netherlands and Italy in March as part of its preparations for the 2018 FIFA World Cup, the Football Association has announced.

The fixtures will provide Gareth Southgate's side with an opportunity to face top-class opposition ahead of the showpiece tournament, although both opponents were shocked to miss out on qualifying for Russia 2018.

The Three Lions will travel to Amsterdam to face Netherlands on 24 March (AEDT) before welcoming Italy to Wembley Stadium four days later.

England has lost its past two meetings with the Oranje, which failed to even reach the FIFA World Cup qualifying play-offs after finishing third in Group A, including a 2-1 loss on home soil in March 2016.

Italy, meanwhile, missed out on a place for the first time since 1958 after losing a two-legged play-off against Sweden. The Azzurri were beaten 2-1 on their last visit to Wembley, back in August 2012.


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