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England line up Denmark friendly at Wembley as part of Euro 2020 preparations

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Gareth Southgate’s England team will play Denmark in the second of two March friendlies at Wembley – with the Football Association yet to confirm who will be the first of England’s opponents in the build-up to Euro 2020.

The England manager has stressed the importance of playing first-rate opposition when the team reconvenes for the first time next year, with his belief that the winners of the European Championships will come from a group of seven leading nations. The FA says the team will play two further home games away from Wembley in June prior to the start of the competition, as well as another further afield in Europe.

Southgate has said he believes that, along with England, the key European nations challenging to win next summer are world champions France, as well as Spain, Italy, Holland, Portugal, Croatia and No 1 Fifa-ranked nation Belgium. The England manager has said that it is important his side are tested against the best opposition, especially having had what he regarded as a simple qualifying campaign, one defeat to the Czech Republic aside.

At 14th, Denmark, who qualified for Euro 2020 with a draw on Tuesday with the Republic of Ireland, are currently above Italy and Germany in the Fifa rankings. England will play the Danes on the evening of Tuesday March 31. England will play their first Wembley March friendly four days earlier, on a Friday night, with the game dedicated to the Duke of Cambridge’s Heads Up mental health campaign.

The draw for the group stage of Euro 2020 will take place in Bucharest a week on Saturday.

Speaking last week, Southgate said that it could be difficult to arrange friendlies with the best opposition in March. “Some of the European teams will be difficult to tie down because of play-offs, and some of them don’t want to play us,” he said. “It’s not a straightforward thing. We’re going to have to be a little bit open-minded while we’re doing that.

“But I think sometimes the emotion of … [for example] you draw Ivory Coast [at a World Cup] and you play Tunisia because, of course, they’re African. I’m not so sure that is really relevant for some. I think we just want good quality opposition who are going to test you in every aspect of your game.”

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