(Reuters) - England will play international friendlies against Nigeria and Costa Rica ahead of the World Cup finals in Russia, the Football Association (FA) announced on Wednesday.
England are to host Nigeria at Wembley on June 2 and face Costa Rica at Elland Road five days later, before kicking off their World Cup Group G campaign against Tunisia on June 18.
Manager Gareth Southgate is confident that the fixtures will help prepare England for their World Cup opener as well as their second group match against Panama on June 24.
“We’ve mostly played European opposition up to now and the Brazil game (a 0-0 draw in November) acted as a reminder that we need to challenge ourselves in different ways as a team,” Southgate said.
“We’re going into a World Cup where we will play African and Central American opposition so we get that with the games against Nigeria and Costa Rica, but it’s not just about the games we’ve got in the group but hopefully beyond that as well.
“We want to expose the team to different styles and different experiences.”
England will conclude pool play against Group G top seeds Belgium on June 28.
Southgate’s side have also scheduled March friendlies against Netherlands and Italy, both of whom failed to qualify for the World Cup finals.
Reporting by Aditi Prakash in Bengaluru