England’s interim manager Gareth Southgate will be hoping his second test runs as smoothly as his first.
Malta were swatted aside with routine ease at Wembley on Saturday, though perhaps the side should have secured something more comprehensive than a 2-0 win.
Nonetheless, Slovenia are likely to provide a much sterner challenge in Ljubljana on Tuesday night, as they look to build on their 1-0 win against Slovakia at the weekend.
Well, you may have missed this, but Wayne Rooney will not be starting in this match. Southgate said in yesterday evening’s press conference that the captain was being omitted for tactical reasons, with Tottenham’s Eric Dier coming into replace him.
There are no new injury concerns regarding the starting lineup, aside from Ryan Bertrand. The Southampton defender came off injured against Malta after twenty minutes, and Arsenal’s Kieran Gibbs has been called up to the squad to replace him.
Third-choice keeper Tom Heaton also had to withdraw through injury, and has subsequently been replaced in the squad by Sunderland’s Jordan Pickford.
The Likely Starting Lineup:
Southgate is likely to persist (mostly) with the same eleven that beat Malta. The surprise inclusion of Jesse Lingard and Daniel Sturridge paid dividends as the latter scored and the former had a fine debut. It would be harsh on either to see their place taken from them:
Probabale XI: Hart, Clyne, Stones, Cahill, Rose, Dier, Henderson, Alli, Walcott, Lingard, Sturridge
Slovenia are ranked 67th in the FIFA World Rankings, having slipped eight places from last month. They come into this game in relatively good stead, having secured four points from their opening two games.
They, along with Slovakia, Scotland and Lithuania, have their eyes fixed firmly on that playoff spot behind England.
In terms of key players, Jan Oblak has become one of the finest goalkeepers in Europe under Diego Simeone at Atlético Madrid, while Josip Ilicic can be dangerous as shown by his performances with Fiorentina.
The Head-to-Head Record:
England and Slovenia have only met each other four times, but all four have come within the last seven years. The Three Lions have a 100% record against their Eastern European opponents, but none of those wins have been easy.
For example, the last time these two sides met (in a Euro 2016 qualifier in Lubljana), England required a late Rooney goal to seal a 3-2 victory.
- England 2-1 Slovenia (Friendly, 5/9/2009)
- Slovenia 0-1 England (World Cup 2010, 23/6/2010)
- England 3-1 Slovenia (Euro 2016 Qualification, 15/11/2014)
- Slovenia 2-3 England (Euro 2016 Qualification, 14/6/2015)
England haven’t lost a competitive qualifier since October 2009 and there’s no reason to think that this will be the moment when that record falls. It won’t be easy, but England should have enough about them to make it three wins from three and stay comfortably on course for Russia.
— BBC Sportsound (@BBCSportsound) October 8, 2016