Watch Sergio Ramos, Saul Niguez and other Spain stars get put through paces

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Spain trained on Tuesday ahead of Euro 2020 qualifiers against Romania on Thursday, and Faroe Island next Sunday.

Spain leads Group F with 12 points after victories against Norway (2-1), Malta (2-0), Faroe Island (4-1) and Sweden (3-0).

Watch them put get put through their paces above:









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Jordan Pickford up for the fight as battle for England No1 jersey heats up

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Jordan Pickford relishes the challenge of trying to hold on to the England No1 spot and believes growing competition will push him to another level.

The Everton goalkeeper has repaid Gareth Southgate’s faith since becoming first choice for the World Cup, where his penalty shoot-out heroics againstColombia were complemented by a man-of-the-match display in the quarter-final against Sweden.

Pickford’s ability on the ball was key to his getting the starting role ahead of Jack Butland – a player who was omitted for the forthcoming Euro 2020 qualifiers against Bulgaria and Kosovo following a difficult start to the season with Stoke.

Tom Heaton and Nick Pope got the nod instead this time, but Angus Gunn, Dean Henderson and Aaron Ramsdale are knocking at the door.

“I think it’s great for the GK union that there is that much competition,” Pickford said. “It means people will thrive and become better goalkeepers.

“It means you have to be performing for your club first and training hard, making yourself the best you can be at Everton for me, then England should take care of itself.

“The more competition the better. It will make me better as well. I think it’s six goalkeepers (in the Premier League), which is quality for us.”

Ben Foster takes the number of starting English goalkeepers in the Premier League to seven but is now retired from international duty, while Southgate is keeping tabs on Newcastle’s Freddie Woodman during his loan spell at Swansea.

The England manager’s options are keeping Pickford on his toes, so too the way he is willing to drop big names for the purpose of progress.

“You just look at the quality on the training pitch,” the goalkeeper said. “The quality is throughout the team and we all know what we want to achieve as a team.

“We all strive to be better on the pitch and as a squad it is always evolving.

“We have new lads in this week and everyone is fighting with the competition.

“You have to be playing well to be in the side and, for your club, you’ve got to be playing well.

“That is your first focus, then you have to do well when you come here. That is what everyone seems to do in training, the standard is unbelievable.”

Pickford considers himself among the top performers in the squad and is understandably confident after a promising start to the season with Marco Silva’s Toffees.

“I’m in good form and feel I’ve kicked on,” he said. “I feel strong and have been getting clean sheets.

“The main thing is winning and as long as we win it’s okay to concede now and again.

“We’ve started the season well and I’m making good saves and my distribution has been good as well.”

It is an encouraging start to a campaign that could end in memorable fashion.

Having reached the World Cup semi-finals and finished third in the inaugural Nations League, England are aiming for Euro 2020 success in a tournament that will start and end on home soil.

“It’s still a long way to go and we have to qualify first,” Pickford said. “We’ll be looking to get as many wins (as we can), starting with the two in front of us, but knowing that is on the other side next year is a great ambition for us to make it there.

“I haven’t taken too much thought into it as it is a year away.

“I’ve just got to keep playing well for Everton and then making sure I’m on my A-game if I play for England.

“When we get closer we’ll visualise it more, but at the moment we’re focused on qualifying.”

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Bournemouth defender Chris Mepham wants to fill Wales leadership void left by Ashley Williams

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Chris Mepham wants to fill the Wales leadership void left by the absence of captain Ashley Williams.

The 86-times capped Williams was left out of Friday’s vital Euro 2020 home qualifier against Azerbaijan following his summer departure from Everton.

Williams was unattached until he joined Bristol City at the end of August, prompting manager Ryan Giggs to drop the third most-capped Wales player of all-time.

Bournemouth defender Mepham is still only 21 with six caps to his name, but is ready to take on a more senior role at the back.

“Ash is a big miss, he’s a big voice around the changing room and is a natural leader,” Mepham said.

“It’s important we fill those shoes and I like to think I’ve got that personality who can be vocal. Pull people around and be that natural leader in the back four. I’m only 21 but I don’t think that’s a reason not to be vocal.

“There’s many leaders in the past who have led from a young age. I would like to be that person and that voice at the heart of the back four.”

Ashley Williams is Wales' third-most capped player.

Ashley Williams is Wales’ third-most capped player.

Mepham has captained the Wales Under-20 and Under-21 sides, playing alongside Joe Rodon.

Rodon, also 21, is set to win his first cap against Azerbaijan and be rewarded for his outstanding form in Swansea’s climb to the top of the Championship.

Mepham also captained his previous club Brentford on one occasion.

“We had a weird system at Brentford where we didn’t have a selected captain,” he said. “Under Dean Smith there was a new person every week who would be captain.

“I got my chance away to Ipswich, it was a nice feeling and we drew 1-1. So I have experienced it before and hopefully I can get the armband again at some point.”

Wales entertain Azerbaijan – Group E’s whipping boys with no points from three games – in Cardiff playing catch-up, with this encounter marking the halfway stage of qualifying.

Giggs’ side trail leaders Hungary by six points, albeit with a game in hand, and are three adrift of Croatia and Slovakia in the race for a top-two spot.

“It’s a massive game now, a must-win,” Mepham said, reflecting on the back-to-back summer losses in Croatia and Hungary.

“We know we’re more than capable of getting a win on Friday. Hopefully we can do that and take that momentum forward.

“But we can’t look at it as a game where we can just turn up and beat them. It’s important we go into the game with the right mindset and get an early goal that will settle the nerves of the fans and the players.”

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