sport news No rest for the mighty Virgil van Dijk... now Liverpool icon stands in the way ...

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No rest for the mighty Virgil van Dijk... now Liverpool icon stands in the way of England's bid for a trophy ahead of Nations League semi with Holland England face Holland in the UEFA Nations League semi-final on Thursday night Raheem Sterling is set to captain England in the absence of Harry Kane Kane is set to be on the bench after playing in the Champions League final He is one of many Tottenham and Liverpool players set to be overlooked In contrast, Liverpool centre back Virgil van Dijk is set to start for Holland

By Matt Lawton for the Daily Mail

Published: 22:30 BST, 5 June 2019 | Updated: 22:37 BST, 5 June 2019

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Here in Guimaraes on Wednesday night the two managers certainly came tooled up. Ronald Koeman had Virgil van Dijk, Gareth Southgate had Raheem Sterling - the winners of the two main individual awards in English football and seemingly the captains for Wednesday evening, too.

Their presence at the pre-match press conferences added a bit of extra sparkle to a new competition trying its best to appear like a mini-major tournament - even if Sterling did have to clear up the mess created by a trigger-happy PR firm.

On Wednesday night Southgate had no desire to confirm whether Harry Kane was his captain because he said it would reveal to Koeman what team he had in mind for their Nations League semi-final. But the red-faced Purple PR whizzes representing Sterling sent round a press release to media organisations on Tuesday night announcing that their client was set to be captain as well as the recipient of a 50th cap, pretty much giving the game away.

Raheem Sterling (right) was present alongside Gareth Southgate during Wednesday's presser

Raheem Sterling (right) was present alongside Gareth Southgate during Wednesday's presser

Virgil van Dijk (left) sat alongside Ronald Koeman as Holland prepare for the threat of England

Virgil van Dijk (left) sat alongside Ronald Koeman as Holland prepare for the threat of England

It suggested there would be no Kane and no Jordan Henderson, either, and in all likelihood not too many - if any - of the remaining Liverpool and Tottenham players involved in Saturday's Champions League final in Madrid.

Credit to Sterling for the way he handled the situation, admitting that he was 'fuming' when he realised what had happened on Wednesday morning and revealing that he had then apologised to the England manager. It would seem the apology was accepted and he will indeed be the proudest young man in Portugal on Thursday evening.

But it also means that Southgate does seem intent on resting those involved in Champions League battle last weekend in the hope he can bring them back for Sunday's final.

'This has been a strange, different sort of preparation,' said Southgate as he reflected on the

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