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Croatia v England

England could get ‘upper hand’ in empty stadium against Croatia - Pickford

22:43 EAT 11/10/2018
Jordan Pickford England World Cup 2018
The goalkeeper thinks the Three Lions have a good opportunity in their rematch with the World Cup finalists

Playing in an empty stadium against World Cup finalist Croatia could give England an advantage, says Three Lions goalkeeper Jordan Pickford.

England and Croatia squared off in the World Cup semi-finals this past summer, with Croatia coming out the victor in extra time.

The teams will meet again Friday in the UEFA Nations League, with both sides looking to bounce back from a loss to Spain to open their Group 4 slates.

However, the game will take place behind closed doors with no fans permitted into the stadium in Rijeka as Croatia serve out the second game of a two-match stadium ban.

The nation received the ban for a swastika being marked onto the field during a 2016 Euro qualifier against Italy.

Pickford has experience as a visitor in Croatia, having faced Hajduk Split in the Europa League with Everton last season, and believes that while the environment can get a player up for the contest, having no fans present should benefit England.

"We played there against Hajduk Split in the Europa League qualifier and [it was] very hostile, the fans were crazy, I thoroughly enjoyed it and it got me up for the game," Pickford told Sky Sports.

"But now we've got a 'no fans in the stadium' ban; but I think going away from home you're up against hostile crowds so hopefully this can give us the upper hand.

"I think it will feel a bit different, but it's how you react to it."

The chance to get one back on Croatia after they ruined England’s World Cup dream at the second-to-last hurdle is something that is on the mind of the goalkeeper.

However, Pickford says the priority is about displaying the squad’s ability and bouncing back from their loss to start the Nations League.

"I think we just want to go over there and show the quality we have got and the improvements hopefully we've been making," said the 24-year-old.

"If you win it is a bit of revenge, but the main aim is to get that win and we want to get the momentum going again."