England lining up Australia as replacements for New Zealand friendly

England lining up clash against Australia after New Zealand pulled out of November friendly at Wembley due to coronavirus concerns

  • England are lining up a clash against Australia at Wembley next month
  • New Zealand pulled out of the friendly because of Covid-19 concerns 
  • Some Premier League clubs hoped England would scrap the friendly altogether

England are lining up a clash against Australia following New Zealand’s decision to scrap next month’s original friendly at Wembley due to Covid concerns.

Some Premier League clubs had hoped England would consider discarding the friendly altogether amid growing player fatigue concerns due to what will be a congested season.

But Sportsmail can reveal talks for the Socceroos to replace their neighbours as England’s opponents in November are at an advanced stage, with the Football Association hoping to confirm the match by the end of the week.

England are lining up a clash against Australia after New Zealand pulled out of a friendly

England and Australia share one of the world’s most fiercest sporting rivalries, next month’s clash rekindling memories of previous battles between the two nations.

New Zealand were scheduled to face Gareth Southgate’s side on November 12, but in a statement on their their website, chief executive officer Andrew Pragnell said: ‘It is with deep regret that we have been forced to cancel our participation in the upcoming match against England at Wembley.

‘It is not an action taken lightly, this is a match we all wanted to play, however, as it stands of the last All Whites squad selected for the November 2019 tour, even excluding the New Zealand based players, a significant number of the team would be subject to quarantine or restrictions on their return home.

New Zealand said they decided to pull out of the friendly due to concerns over coronavirus

The Socceroos have a number of players at European clubs which should ease travel concerns

‘This would heavily disrupt their domestic seasons and potentially jeopardise their professional careers.

‘The shifting nature of travel restrictions and commercial flight availability under Covid means that we do not have certainty we could assemble a squad at Wembley on this day and defaulting on this fixture at the last minute is not an option.’

The fact Australia have a number of players stationed at European clubs should ease their Covid-related travel concerns.

There had been some hope that the FA may not look to find a substitute opponent for New Zealand, particularly from coaches who fear players sustaining injuries whilst playing international football – particularly friendlies.

But Southgate and the FA view the games as vital towards the team’s development – particularly with the European Championships just eight months away.

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