Preparations are ongoing and excitement building as Boro’s Riverside Stadium readies up to host the England men’s national team for the first time in nearly two decades.

Eighteen years have passed since the Three Lions faced Slovakia at Boro’s home, and our representative in that game - a certain Gareth Southgate - is now the manager as he and the national side return to the north east in preparation for the upcoming European Championships.

Southgate and his side report to the Rockliffe Park training ground on Saturday, familiar surroundings for the legendary cup-winning former Boro captain as his squad convene and the hard work begins in earnest ahead of the tournament.

With several senior figures still on club duty for Champions League and Europa League finals, the England boss has named a provisional 33-man squad, which will be whittled down to 26 before the first friendly next Wednesday against Austria (8pm).

Another friendly against Romania on Sunday (5pm) follows, both hosted at the Riverside in front of what will be the stadium’s biggest crowds in well over a year. Millions more are set to watch on at home, with the matches being broadcast live on ITV.

While Southgate is the major Boro connection in the set-up, Graeme Jones, a recent appointment to England’s coaching staff, is a club alumnus having cut his teeth in our Academy and studied for his coaching badges alongside the one-time Boro boss.

Tickets for both matches sold out shortly after going on sale to My England Football members on Monday. Information for supporters attending the games will be distributed directly.

England’s Euro 2020 campaign proper begins against Croatia the following Sunday, June 13, by which time Group D opponents Scotland will have taken residency at Rockliffe, their base for the tournament.