England continue their World Cup qualifying campaign against Andorra on Sunday and Gareth Southgate could take the opportunity to turn his squad around.
England are top of Group I after maintaining their 100% record with Hungary’s 4-0 defeat on Thursday in a racially abused game in Budapest.
Southgate has named their best available team for this game, but with a potentially difficult trip to Poland on Wednesday, Sunday’s return to Wembley to face a team ranked 156th in the world by FIFA could provide an opportunity for fringe players to shine.
Up front, Patrick Bamford is hoping to make his debut after receiving his first senior call-up.
The Leeds forward was an unused substitute against Hungary, watching from the bench Harry Kane scoring twice, but with Dominic Calvert-Lewin, Marcus Rashford and Ollie Watkins all out due to injury he hopes to feature.
Southgate spoke of his “excellent progress” earlier this week. Bamford, a former England Under-21 international, scored 17 Premier League goals under Marcelo Bielsa last season and opened his account for the new campaign against Burnley on Sunday.
Bamford is the only player not selected for Southgate’s squad, but he’s not the only one looking to make a good impression against Andorra.
Jesse Lingard has returned to the squad after missing a place at Euro 2020 and is in the running to start appearing on the bench in Budapest.
Bukayo Saka, who missed England’s decisive shot in the Euro 2020 final penalty shootout, their last game at Wembley, is another who hopes to play a bigger role after playing as replacing Sunday.
In midfield, Southgate mixed things up after choosing Declan Rice and Kalvin Phillips, his favorite central duo, in the win over Hungary.
Jordan Henderson gives him an experienced option to turn to, while there’s also the youthful energy of Borussia Dortmund’s Jude Bellingham, who is hoping to add to his seven caps.
In defense, Conor Coady, Tyrone Mings, Reece James and Trent Alexander-Arnold all hope they missed out against Hungary, while Southgate might even be tempted to mix things up in goal, with Nick Pope and Sam Johnstone to choose from as well. by Jordan Pickford.
Andorra head to Wembley after scoring a rare victory on Thursday, beating compatriots San Marino 2-0, but England have won their last four meetings with an aggregate score of 16-0, and have an impressive home record in World Cup Qualifiers.
In fact, since their 1-0 loss to Germany in their last game at former Wembley under Kevin Keegan, England haven’t lost, winning 23 of their World Cup qualifiers at home and a draw with the other two.
World Cup Qualifying – Group I Classification
England are five points clear at the top of Group I
|6) San Marino||4||0||0||4||0||12||-12||0|
With Gareth Southgate confirming that there will be “a lot of changes” at Wembley, one player who will certainly be missed is Jadon Sancho, who is back at Manchester United after suffering a minor blow in training.
Sunday’s game could be an opportunity for Nick Pope, Tyrone Mings, Jude Bellingham and Bukayo Saka to gain some game time, while Trent Alexander-Arnold – who missed Euro 2020 with injury – is also vying to start.
- England have won their four internationals against Andorra with an aggregate score of 16-0, their first game against them since a 6-0 home win under Fabio Capello in June 2009.
- Andorra are one of only four international nations that England have faced up to four times without conceding a goal, along with Estonia, Lithuania and Moldova.
- England have not lost any of their last 25 World Cup qualifying matches at home (W23, D2) since losing 1-0 to Germany in their last game at former Wembley under management by Kevin Keegan. They have scored 71 goals in those unbeaten games and have only conceded 11 times.
- Andorra have lost 55 of their 57 away World Cup and Euro qualifiers, drawing 0-0 against Macedonia in February 2005 and 2-2 against Albania in November 2019. All competitions combined, Andorra has won only one. away game, against San Marino in a friendly in 2017.
- Andorra enjoyed a 2-0 victory over San Marino in its last qualifying game, only the third time it has won a World Cup qualifier, as well as 1-0 victories over North Macedonia in 2004 and Hungary in 2017. It was also the first time the Andorrans had scored two goals in a World Cup qualifier since a 3-2 loss to Cyprus in September 2000.
- Harry Kane has scored in each of his last 13 Euro / World Cup qualifiers, scoring 17 goals in total in this series. In all competitions, Kane has 39 goals in 62 caps and one more goal will see him tie Michael Owen’s tally for the Three Lions and put him fifth on the all-time list.
- Raheem Sterling has been directly involved in 11 goals in 13 appearances at Wembley in the major tournament playoffs (Euros / World Cup), scoring seven goals and assisting four. He also finished on the winning side in each of those 13 matches.
England qualifiers for the World Cup
September 5: England vs Andorra – kick off 5 p.m.
September 8: Poland vs England – kick off at 7.45 p.m.
October 9: Andorra vs England – kick-off at 7.45 p.m.
October 12: England vs Hungary – kick-off at 7.45 p.m.
November 12: England vs Albania – kick-off at 7.45 p.m.
November 15: San Marino vs England – kick off at 7.45 p.m.
Qualifying for the World Cup explained
Thirteen European nations will take part in the Qatar World Cup, which will be played in November and December 2022 to avoid the grueling summer heat in the Middle East.
The winners of the 10 groups will automatically qualify for the final.
Three more places will be contested between the 10 group runners-up and the two top-ranked Nations League teams that have not yet qualified or have not finished in a second place.
These 12 teams will be divided into three play-off lanes, each featuring four countries, to determine the three final European places. The format will consist of two knockout rounds in March 2022, from which the three additional teams will qualify.
The draw for the 2022 World Cup final takes place in April 2022.