Four matches remain for England in the group stages of the FIFA World Cup qualifiers from UEFA confederation. Question is if they can be successful in joining the likes of Japan, Brazil and Iran, who have already sealed berth at Russia 2018 after successfully bagging automatic qualification.
The Three Lions currently lead Group F, bagging a total of 14 points from six matches. Malta are already eliminated, but England still face stiff competition from Slovenia, Slovakia, Scotland and Lithuania in the race to get the one automatic World Cup berth from the group.
It is a home match for the Malta national football team, but the away side are massive favourites to win on Friday, September 1. Two of the most in-form England players are missing, however. Wayne Rooney and Fraser Forster.
After making his move to Everton FC from Manchester United, Rooney seems to have rediscovered his mojo, while Forster has been one of the best goalkeepers in the Premier League so far this season.
Rooney has announced his retirement from international football and that is a legit reason not to include him in the squad. Southampton star goalkeeper Forster, however, is also not a part of the squad and that's honestly a bad decision from Gareth Southgate.
More so, the England football team manager is willing to field his No 1 choice Joe Hart yet again between the sticks, against Malta. Hart, who moved to West Ham on a season-long loan deal this season, has conceded a whopping ten goals in just three Premier League matches.
Safe to say the former Manchester City numero uno goalkeeper is pretty low on confidence at the moment.
Star forward Harry Kane, too, is on a goal drought for his club Tottenham Hotspur, but it remains to be seen if the international break can work wonders for him. Manchester United forward Marcus Rashford, meanwhile, deserves a starting 11 berth, but will Southgate give him the go-ahead from the start?
Our ideal England lineup for the match:
Hart (as chosen by Southgate); Walker, Jones, Maguire/Cahill, Bertrand; Dier, Henderson; Oxlade-Chamberlain, Sterling/Dele Alli, Rashford; Kane/Vardy.
- Date: September 1
- Time: 7:45 pm BST (12:15 am IST - Saturday)
- Venue: Ta'Qali National Stadium, Malta
Where to watch live
INDIA: TV - Sony Ten 1/HD. Live stream - Sony Liv
UK: TV - ITV 1, UTV. Live stream - ITV Hub
Malta: TV - TVM 2
Live score: Twitter