After a convincing first performance against a weak Malta side, Gareth Southgate’s England travel to the Stadion Stožice in Ljubljana where they face a tougher test in the form of Slovenia.
First half goals from Daniel Sturridge and Dele Alli secured victory for the Three Lions in a game where they should really have scored more. With over three-quarters of possession and a total of 20 shots on goal, England dominated. But a mix of some good saves from Malta’s English born goalie, Andrew Hogg, and some poor finishing meant the game finished at 2-0.
Attention finally managed to shift away from off-field controversy however there is still much discussion about Wayne Rooney, who was booed by sections of the Wembley crowd against Malta on Saturday. Southgate has responded to this by dropping the England captain to the bench for the Slovenia game. A decision that confirms Rooney is entering the twilight years.
But Slovenia will be looking to build on their 1-0 win against Slovakia on Saturday and put pressure on England who sit two points ahead of them at the top of qualifying Group F.
More injuries mean that Southgate is forced to bring in a few replacements for the Tuesday evening fixture. An injury to left-back Ryan Bertrand brings Arsenal’s Kieran Gibbs into the squad while goalkeeper Jordan Pickford receives his first call up replacing Burnley’s Tom Heaton.
Injuries have plagued this England side in recent weeks with Bertrand and Heaton joining the likes of Harry Kane, Adam Lallana and Raheem Sterling on the treatment table. Southgate will hope some of his younger players can make the step up.
With Rooney on the bench it will be interesting to see how England line up. Jordan Henderson will become the 118th player to captain the national team while Eric Dier also returns.
Southgate may be tempted to play Alli in a deeper role and bring in one of Marcus Rashford or Andros Twonsend.
With the likes of Atlético Madrid goalie, Jan Oblak, and Fiorentina striker, Josip Iličić, Slovenia will definitely not roll over against England. If anything they will be desperate to make a mark on Group F after just failing to qualify for Euro 2016 with a play-off loss to the Ukraine.