Roy Hodgson’s men will be expected to treat a sell-out Wembley crowd to a glut of goals against a San Marino side ranked the joint-worst in the FIFA World Rankings, alongside Bhutan and the Turks and Caicos Islands.
The fixture against a side that has only ever won once in 22 years of competition will almost certainly provide England with a welcome boost to their World Cup qualification campaign, which has stuttered somewhat following their unconvincing 1-1 draw at home to Ukraine last month.
Fortunately, Hodgson is able to call upon Wayne Rooney after the Manchester United side missed the first two qualifiers through injury. Indeed, in the absence of the suspended Steven Gerrard and injured Frank Lampard, Rooney will captain the side for the first time in a competitive match.
Hodgson has many selection issues elsewhere with Glen Johnson Kyle Walker expected to come in at right back due to Glen Johnson’s suspension, while Gary Cahill could start alongside either Phil Jagielka or Joleon Lescott as England attempt to adapt to the realities of life after John Terry. At left-back, Hodgson must choose between arguably a flying Leighton Baines and Ashley Cole, two appearances off a 100 caps for England but plagued by controversy in recent weeks.
Further forward, Hodgson must choose whether to play Rooney alongside the in-form Jermain Defoe or pair the two of them together in the anticipation of them both getting on the scoresheet against such weak opposition. Thus, the pacy thrust of Theo Walcott could be preferred to the industrious but one-paced James Milner, with Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain expected to continue on the opposite flank but his third consecutive start for his country.
Minnows San Marino have been openly honest about their side’s chances of getting any kind of result at Wembley and perhaps there one chance of grabbing a goal has been extinguished as Andy Selva, the nation’s leading goalscorer with eight is expected to start the match on the bench.
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