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VILNIUS, LITHUANIA - OCTOBER 08: Gareth Southgate during the FIFA 2018 World Cup Qualifier between Lithuania and England on October 8, 2017 in Vilnius, Lithuania. (Photo by Norbert Barczyk/PressFocus/MB Media/Getty Images)

MB Media/Getty Images

England will face the Netherlands and Italy in a pair of friendly matches in March as part of their preparations for the 2018 FIFA World Cup

News of the double-header of international games came via Sky Sports News on Tuesday:

The Three Lions have secured their spot at the Russia showpiece next month after an excellent qualifying campaign, in which they won nine and drew one of their 10 matches.

Their opponents will not be heading to the World Cup, though, despite their esteemed records in the game. 

The Netherlands will sit out their second consecutive major tournament after they finished outside the play-off spots in Group A. The side who beat the Oranje to that berth, Sweden, then went on to eliminate Italy over two legs on Monday. It’ll be the first time the Azzurri have missed a World Cup in 60 years.

Italy will miss the World Cup for the first time since 1958.

Italy will miss the World Cup for the first time since 1958.Etsuo Hara/Getty Images

Football365’s Daniel Storey joked about the choice of teams for the pair of friendly encounters for England:

The games will continue a string of high-calibre opponents for Gareth Southgate’s side, who will be hopeful of building confidence with some strong performances ahead of the Russia tournament. 

England played world champions Germany at Wembley on Friday and held them to a respectable 0-0 draw. They will face the No. 2-ranked team in the world, Brazil, on Tuesday.

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