The penultimate international football window has arrived before next month sees those heading to Russia as group winners confirmed.

This match represents England‘s first match without Wayne Rooney so can they roar closer to the 2018 FIFA World Cup with victory?

 

Team News

Goalkeeper, Jordan Pickford has pulled out with a muscular injury and no replacement has been called up.

Tottenham right back, Kieran Trippier too will play no part after heading back to his club to rehabilitate a likely ankle injury.

Despite those two withdrawals, Leicester’s Harry Maguire and Watford’s Nathaniel Chalobah will be hoping for their first senior starts in central defence.

Harry Kane will start up front with Joe Hart in goal.

 

Comfortable victory in sight?

This fixture has been played only four times before with England dominating the head to head record 4-0.

Three of those games were competitive with England stronger at home in their two Wembley games against tonight’s opposition. The two previous trips to Malta saw a total of seven goals for the Three Lions and one conceded.

One of those trips was competitive whilst the other was a friendly in the same stadium as tonight. Both results were tight with 1-0 and 2-1 score lines respectively.

 

Captaincy on rotation

With Wayne Rooney now an ex England captain, the hunt is on for his replacement.

Southgate however has decided to rotate the captaincy with Jordan Henderson and Kane having already had their turns.

Gary Cahill was vice captain during Rooney’s reign of the armband and would be the obvious choice.

Could an inexperienced player be handed a chance to develop their leadership skills under the armband as part of Southgate’s plan to develop new leaders?

 

Prediction

England have been quite boring to watch at best of times and away from Wembley will be a tough test.

Given that the two previous visits saw narrow wins, you have to fancy England for victory but they need to play attacking football rather than the boring style seen so far under Gareth Southgate.

It will be ugly but expect England to just edge it.

Prediction: Malta 0-1 England

Result: Malta 0-4 England

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