New England manager Sam Allardyce has named his 23-man squad for September’s World Cup qualifier against Slovakia, and now speculation begins on how the Three Lions will line up for his first international.
In a potentially tricky away game for England, it’s unlikely Allardyce will make drastic changes to the starting XI given the lack of training time he’s had with the squad, but how will England line up?
England squad (taken from BBC Sport)
Goalkeepers: Fraser Forster (Southampton), Joe Hart (Manchester City), Tom Heaton (Burnley).
Defenders: Gary Cahill (Chelsea), Nathaniel Clyne (Liverpool), Phil Jagielka (Everton), Danny Rose (Tottenham Hotspur), Luke Shaw (Manchester United), Chris Smalling (Manchester United), John Stones (Manchester City), Kyle Walker (Tottenham Hotspur).
Midfielders: Dele Alli (Tottenham Hotspur), Michail Antonio (West Ham United), Eric Dier (Tottenham Hotspur), Danny Drinkwater (Leicester City), Jordan Henderson (Liverpool), Adam Lallana (Liverpool), Wayne Rooney (Manchester United), Raheem Sterling (Manchester City), Theo Walcott (Arsenal).
Strikers: Harry Kane (Tottenham Hotspur), Daniel Sturridge (Liverpool), Jamie Vardy (Leicester City).
Potential starting eleven
Joe Hart should start in goal despite his Manchester City future being up in the air. The experienced shot-stopper impressed in Wednesday’s Champions League playoff clash against Steaua, and Allardyce won’t have any reservations picking him for next month’s World Cup qualifier.
Nathaniel Clyne (Liverpool) could start right-back with Kyle Walker looking suspect for Tottenham early into the new season. Allardyce is likely to opt for a more defensive-minded player with Slovakia likely to be dangerous in their own backyard which could pip it for Clyne.
Gary Cahill (Chelsea) and John Stones (Man City) have been regulars for their respective clubs this season and could be partnered at the heart of the defence as a result. Chris Smalling (Man Utd) is an automatic starter when fit but he’s played just a handful of minutes so far. Stones’ ability to pick out long-range passes could make him useful for a counter-attacking style England are expected to adopt away to Slovakia, and Cahill is capable of the same.
Danny Rose (Tottenham Hotspur) could edge the left-back position for England purely down to the lack of game time Luke Shaw has had in comparison over the last few months due to his injury. Allardyce will want to see Shaw in action due to his impressive Manchester United form, but Rose has been a regular for England and should keep his place for now.
Eric Dier (Tottenham) is a certainty in the ball-winning role in midfield, and is expected to be utilised in a deep-lying position. Jordan Henderson of Liverpool could partner Dier as he’s been ever-present for the Reds this season and has more international experience than Danny Drinkwater (Leicester City) who was recalled. The latter might be given a late cameo, however.
Raheem Sterling (Man City) and Theo Walcott (Arsenal) have both impressed early into the new Premier League season for their respective clubs and could both start on the opposite flanks for England as a result. Allardyce loves pace in wide areas and will want his wide men bursting down the line and whipping balls in as much as possible.
Wayne Rooney should keep his place in the side for England, operating in the central attacking-midfield role behind the lone striker. He’s been fulfilling a similar duty for Manchester United this season and should continue for the Three Lions next month.
Harry Kane (Tottenham) should lead the line for England due to his playing style. Allardyce loves robust players who brings others into play and provides an aerial threat. Kane should thrive on the support in the wide areas, and should pip selection over Daniel Sturridge (Liverpool) and Jamie Vardy (Leicester City) as a result of his all-round threat at centre-forward.
England are 1/1 to win against Slovakia on Sunday, September 4. Can Allardyce mastermind victory in the Three Lions’ World Cup qualifier?