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England vs San Marino: World Cup qualifier preview

T

he road to the 2022 World Cup in Qatar starts on Thursday night for England as they host San Marino at Wembley.

The Covid-enforced delay to the European Championships means England begin their qualification campaign for one major tournament before another has even begun – and also means the three fixtures during this international break double as crucial opportunities for Gareth Southgate to fine tune his plans for this summer.

Minnows San Marino should provide few problems at Wembley, but may give Southgate the opportunity to experiment with a more attacking line-up, the Three Lions boss having been criticised for being too conservative during the Uefa Nations League campaign.

Date, kick-off time and venue

England vs San Marino is scheduled for a 7:45pm kick-off on Thursday, March 25, 2021.

The game will be played behind closed doors at Wembley Stadium because of current coronavirus restrictions.

How to watch

TV channel: The game will be broadcast live on ITV1.

Live stream: TV licence payers can stream the match live via the ITVHub website or app.

Team news

England will have Borussia Dortmund star Jude Bellingham available after fears German Covid regulations would prevent him from travelling, but club teammate Jadon Sancho is one of a number of attacking stars out injured, including Jack Grealish, while Marcus Rashford is a doubt.

Two of the stars of the 2018 World Cup have been recalled, with John Stones and Jesse Lingard back in the fold after long absences following sharp upturns in their club form, but Liverpool’s Trent Alexander-Arnold has been dropped.

West Brom goalkeeper Sam Johnstone has received his first call-up with No1 Jordan Pickford out injured, while Aston Villa’s Ollie Watkins is also part of the squad for the first time.

England squad in full

Goalkeepers: Dean Henderson (Manchester United), Sam Johnstone (West Bromwich Albion), Nick Pope (Burnley)

Defenders:Ben Chilwell (Chelsea), Conor Coady (Wolverhampton Wanderers), Eric Dier (Tottenham Hotspur), Reece James (Chelsea), Harry Maguire (Manchester United), Tyrone Mings (Aston Villa), Luke Shaw (Manchester United), John Stones (Manchester City), Kieran Trippier (Atletico Madrid), Kyle Walker (Manchester City)

Midfielders: Jude Bellingham (Borussia Dortmund), Phil Foden (Manchester City), Jesse Lingard (West Ham United, loan from Manchester United), Mason Mount (Chelsea), Kalvin Phillips (Leeds United), Declan Rice (West Ham United), James Ward-Prowse (Southampton)

Forwards: Dominic Calvert-Lewin (Everton),  Harry Kane (Tottenham Hotspur), Marcus Rashford (Manchester United), Bukayo Saka (Arsenal), Raheem Sterling (Manchester City), Ollie Watkins (Aston Villa)

Prediction: England 6-0 San Marino

It’s easy to forget that prior to the disappointing Nations League campaign, England had looked a free-flowing, goalscoring machine during Euro2020 qualification.

Gareth Southgate seems likely to throw the shackles off here and with a wealth of attacking talent fighting for summer places, there should be no letting up.

Head to head (h2h) history and results

England have played San Marino on six occasions and, unsurprisingly, won all six. Their last meeting came in qualifying for Euro 2016, with England winning the home fixture 5-0 and 6-0 away from home.

Betting odds and tips (subject to change)

  • England to win 1/200
  • Draw 40/1
  • San Marino to win 100/1

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