White Rose Send-Off for England

Costa Rica are the opposition at Elland Road this Thursday for England's final World Cup warm-up.

Fellow finalists at Russia 2018 and surprise qualifiers from England’s group four years previously, the Central Americans will travel in good spirits from their homeland where they defeated Northern Ireland 3-0 at the weekend.

Although the 'Golden Generation' of Costa Rican players is now ageing slightly they still have qualities that could see them reach the knockout stages once again in Russia and Northern Ireland manager Michael O'Neill was impressed with their technical quality.

England’s long history of matches in Yorkshire stretches back to fixtures at Bramall Lane in the 1880's and they have also played across Sheffield at Hillsborough, in Bradford, Huddersfield and Middlesbrough when the Tees town was still officially part of the White Rose county.

This is a third outing at Elland Road after games against Sweden in 1995 (a 3-3 draw in the Umbro Cup one year out from Euro 96) and against Italy in 2002 (a 2-1 defeat ahead of the World Cup in Japan and South Korea).

Sven-Goran Eriksson's disdain for friendlies meant that he made nine changes at half-time of the Italy game with current England boss Gareth Southgate one of those replaced at the break.

It is to Southgate's credit that he has never gone down that route for friendly matches and tried to replicate a competitive environment in them as much as possible while still looking at potential new options.

His defensive options for Russia include plenty of Yorkshire-born players including Kyle Walker and Harry Maguire, Danny Rose, John Stones and Fabian Delph who returns to his former club ground on Thursday evening.

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