MIDDLESBROUGH, England (Reuters) - Austria coach Franco Foda is hoping to see the fruits of a week’s work on the training pitch when his side take on England in Wednesday’s European Championship warmup in Middlesbrough.
It is the first warmup international for both countries as they prepare for next week’s start of the Euro 2020 tournament.
“We have had a very good week and are absolutely on schedule, the team has trained with a lot of commitment. We mainly worked on our possession and switching game and we want to see that against England,” said Foda at a news conference on Tuesday.
Austria have been training at a camp in Bad Tatzmannsdorf and the game against England at the Riverside Stadium will be followed by a second warm-up international against Slovakia in Vienna on Sunday.
“England have a great team. They have a lot of top players at top clubs. It is no coincidence that they are considered one of the big favourites for the Euros,” said the Austria coach, a former Germany international.
“But we've always said we want to compete with the best,” said Foda, who added that the result was not necessarily the most important. "It's about how we perform."
Foda’s selection in goal is much anticipated with no clear preference among the three keepers in the squad and the coach said he would make changes at halftime on Wednesday to ensure players who have had a long season were not overburdened.
Captain Julian Baumgartlinger, back after knee surgery, and Stefan Ilsanker, who recently recovered from a cold, will not play. “We won't risk anything with either of them,” said Foda.
Marko Arnautovic and Karim Onisiwo are also out, although both flew with the squad to England on Tuesday. “This avoids them leaving the ‘corona bubble’ and they have the medical staff on hand,” explained Foda.
But winger Valentino Lazaro stayed behind to avoid quarantine after a recent trip to Dubai.
(Writing by Mark Gleeson in Cape Town; Editing by Toby Davis)