For England, Wednesday’s friendly with Sweden is a tale of two players set for debuts at opposite ends of their careers and a captain set to reach a famous milestone for his country.

Liverpool’s Steven Gerrard will become the sixth player to win 100 England caps, 12 and a half years after making his debut as a rampaging 20-year-old.

“It’s been fantastic. For me all the games have been significant,” Gerrard said, according to the English Football Association’s website. “Every time you put the England shirt on it is a proud moment and to get 99 is a fantastic achievement for myself.

“If I was pushed, the most significant game for me would be the 5-1 win in Germany in 2001,” he added.

“That was an incredible win and it was my first goal for England too, so it was a special day.

“But playing for England is always special. I still feel fresh and I look forward to every England game as much as my debut.”

At the other end of the scale, both Leon Osman and Wilfried Zaha are included in England squads for the first time. For Everton midfielder Osman, his inclusion is just reward for a consistent career in the Premier League. At 31, though, he could be forgiven for thinking that his opportunity would never arrive.

“I hoped my time hadn't passed me by," Osman said, according to the BBC. "As an English lad I had a desire to play for my country and I was hopeful it might happen.

"I had stopped looking for my name in the squad every time, but I never gave up hope."

While Osman will be looking to make the most of his belated opportunity, Zaha is very much being discussed as a future star for years to come. The Crystal Palace winger who only turned 20 on Saturday has lit up the Championship this season and is said to be on the radar of a host of leading Premier League clubs ahead of a potential move in January.

His inclusion in the England squad has also raised eyebrows because Zaha is eligible to represent the Ivory Coast and has previously been noncommittal on which country he would select.

England’s front line will be weakened for the clash with both Wayne Rooney and Jermain Defoe ruled out. Ashley Cole will be another absentee.

The match will be a special night for Sweden as well, with it marking the inauguration of the Friends Arena in the Swedish capital. In contrast to England, Erik Hamren’s side should also be at close to full strength, except for the absence of forward Johan Elmander.

Sweden come into the friendly on the back of one of the most remarkable results in their history as they came back from four goals down in Berlin to draw 4-4 with Germany last month. Enigmatic Zlatan Ibrahimovic was a key part of that fight back and will look to test England’s defense on Wednesday.


Sweden (probable)

G: Lustig, Olsson, Granqvst, Safari

M: Elm, Kallstrom

Larsson, Ibrahimovic, Kacaniklic

F: Ranegie


England (probable)

G: Hart

D: Johnson, Cahill, Caulker, Baines

M: Gerrard, Cleverley, Osman

F: Sterling, Welbeck, Young


Prediction: England have had the better of the rivalry in recent times, winning the last two meetings between the sides, but before that Sweden had been undefeated in 13 matchups. With confidence sure to be on a high and featuring a strong lineup, at least from the start, Sweden could well return to being a thorn in England’s side.

Sweden 1-1 England

Where to watch: The International friendly kicks-off at 2.30 p.m. ET. Coverage will be provided by Gol TV. A live stream, which you view at your own discretion, will be available here.