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England World Cup Qualifiers – Preview



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England World Cup Qualifiers – Preview

This week sees the return of international football after Euro 2020 as England will be looking to secure their qualification for the Qatar 2022 World Cup. On paper the upcoming fixtures look to be the most difficult will encounter in their quest to qualify, with away games against Hungary and Poland, as well as hosting Andorra sandwiched in between. The “Three Lions” are currently top of their qualification group, with three wins from three games and are 2 points clear of second placed Hungary.


Squad Selection

The squad is largely the same as Southgate’s Euro squad, but with a few noteworthy differences. Liverpool’s Trent Alexander-Arnold’s good start to the season has led to a recall, after he missed the Euros due to injury. Chelsea’s Ben Chilwell has been left out after not featuring for the Blues this season. Dean Henderson and Ben White are still regaining their fitness after suffering from coronavirus. Marcus Rashford is also recuperating after undergoing shoulder surgery during the off season.

Mason Greenwood continues to be out of favour with the England manager and has not featured since he was disciplined for sneaking girls into his hotel room in Iceland last September. Phil Foden, who was also involved in that scandal, has since returned to the England setup, but is still recovering from the foot injury he sustained during the Euros. Leeds United’s Patrick Bamford earns his first England call-up after enjoying a fine season last year.


Predicted Starting Line-ups

For England’s tougher away games, it’s safe to assume that Southgate will opt for a more cautious team selection, with the fringe squad players featuring more prominently in the Andorra fixture.

Southgate will probably go with a back four against Hungary and Poland, with neither team possessing enough attacking width or threat for them to switch to a back three. Pickford is clearly England’s number one, after a series of impressive performances during the Euros. In front of the Everton keeper will be John Stones and Harry Maguire, with Trent Alexander-Arnold at right-back and Manchester United’s Luke Shaw on the left.

Sitting in front of the back four will be Declan Rice and Kalvin Phillips who provide extra defensive cover and allow England’s more attacking players the opportunity to roam forward. Mason Mount will act as the playmaker, linking the defence and attack. Raheem Sterling, Jack Grealish and Harry Kane are set to be England’s three-pronged attack. Southgate will choose these familiar players with Bukayo Saka recovering from a knee injury and Jadon Sancho has not having much game time since his transfer to Manchester United.

The Andorra match should provide Southgate with the opportunity to experiment with new partnerships and allow squad players the chance to shine against the weakest team in the group. Patrick Bamford and Dominic Calvert-Lewin will both enjoy some significant game time, as will Jude Bellingham, Jesse Lingard and Jordan Henderson. The defence will probably also be completely different, with Conor Coady and Tyrone Mings likely to team up, while being by flanked by Reece James and Kieran Trippier.


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Drew is a lifelong sports fan from Bristol who currently lives and works in Hong Kong. He has a keen interest in football, rugby, cricket, F1 and NFL.


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