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The key talking points ahead of England's Nations League play-off

The key talking points ahead of England's Nations League play-off
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Gareth Southgate's men face Switzerland in Guimaraes on Sunday.

England face Switzerland in the Nations League third-place play-off on Sunday afternoon.

The Three Lions were beaten by Holland in extra-time on Thursday night to miss out on a place in the final, while Switzerland fell to hosts Portugal.

Here, Press Association Sport takes a look at some of the talking points ahead of England's final game of the season.

Always the bridesmaid....

Gareth Southgate and his players applaud the crowd after losing the World Cup third-place play-off match against Belgium last summer
Gareth Southgate and his players applaud the crowd after losing the World Cup third-place play-off match against Belgium last summer (Aaron Chown/PA)

For the second summer in a row England will participate for the honour of finishing third rather than competing for a trophy.

They were beaten by Croatia in the semi-final of last summer's World Cup before losing to Belgium 2-0 in St Petersburg.

Gareth Southgate made five changes for that game and is likely to shuffle his pack again here, with most eyes focused on the later kick-off for the final in Porto.

With the inaugural Nations League not carrying the same weight as a World Cup, the game is likely to be sparsely attended with some England fans either opting to watch the final or even fly home early.

.....but third is the word for Southgate

Southgate wants to give England's fans a lift
Southgate wants to give England's fans a lift (Mike Egerton/PA)

While some may question if a third-place play-off in a four-team finals is strictly necessary, Southgate is keen for England to end their Nations League campaign on a high.

Asked at his pre-match press conference how he lifted his players for the game, he replied: "Very simple. We lost an important game on Thursday.

"We've got thousands of fans here and we need to make sure our performance gives something back, that we finish the season in the right manner."

Premier League stars to take lead roles for Swiss

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The Switzerland squad is not loaded with names that will be overly familiar to supporters watching at home – but they do have a Champions League winner and a Europa League finalist among their ranks.

Xherdan Shaqiri of Liverpool and Arsenal's Granit Xhaka are two of the key men for the Swiss, with both no doubt wanting to put in better performances than in the defeat to Portugal.

Xhaka gave away the ball in the build-up to Cristiano Ronaldo's hat-trick goal while Shaqiri conceded celebrating Liverpool's European Cup win impacted on his own display.

Stick with Stones?

John Stones' inclusion against the Swiss is uncertain
John Stones' inclusion against the Swiss is uncertain (Mike Egerton/PA)

John Stones made an awful blunder as he was caught in possession on the edge of his own box by Memphis Depay, a mistake which gifted Holland the lead for the first time in their semi-final clash on Thursday.

The Manchester City defender looked dejected at the time and when the final whistle blew he was consoled by team-mates and backed by Southgate in his post-match press conference.

It remains to be seen if Stones will be taken out of the firing line against the Swiss or given a chance to get the mistake out of his system before heading off on his summer break – with the likes of Michael Keane and Joe Gomez waiting in the wings.

Will Wilson be given his chance to shine?

Callum Wilson celebrates his goal in England's win over the United States
Callum Wilson celebrates his goal in England's win over the United States (Nick Potts/PA)

With fellow strikers Harry Kane and Marcus Rashford struggling to be fully fit, Bournemouth's Callum Wilson could be in line for his second international start.

He scored on his debut in the 3-0 friendly victory over the United States and may get the nod ahead of his more established team-mates.

Kane only just returned from a seven-week injury lay-off and played Tottenham's Champions League final defeat and 75 minutes against Holland, while Rashford was replaced at half-time against the Dutch with an injury which could see him miss out on Sunday.

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John Stones adopts the pose during the Nations League group game between England and Croatia on November 18, 2018
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