England hit the road as their Euro 2020 qualification campaign takes them to Montenegro on Monday.
Here, Football Paradise takes a closer look at some of the talking points ahead of the Group A encounter in Podgorica.
Can England secure a first win in Montenegro?
England could hardly have wished for a better start to qualifying after swatting aside the Czech Republic 5-0 in Friday’s Group A opener. Raheem Sterling’s hat-trick helped see off the second seeds at Wembley. England have drawn their two previous visits to the hostile Gradski Stadion in Podgorica, but the hosts do not boast the same talent they once did. Head coach Ljubisa Tumbakovic is certainly expecting a tough evening for his side. Asked if he had found any weaknesses in the England side, he said: “I’m really trying but I can’t!”
Rice is right for Monday?
England manager Gareth Southgate plans to strike a balance between continuity and freshness on Monday given the quick turnaround. Among those surely set to come in is Declan Rice, who made his debut off the bench on Friday having completed his switch of allegiance from the Republic of Ireland. The 20-year-old held his own against the Czechs and Eric Dier’s withdrawal from the squad with a hip complaint opens up a starting spot. The talented West Ham midfielder got a mainly positive reaction from the Wembley crowd on Friday, but it will be interesting to hear how the hardcore travelling support welcome him after old social media posts appearing to show support for the IRA resurfaced.
While Rice’s inclusion appears certain given Southgate’s limited options, it remains to be seen if Chelsea forward Callum Hudson-Odoi will also be handed his full debut. The 18-year-old became England’s youngest-ever competitive debutant on Friday, impressing with a cameo off the bench against the Czechs. Southgate believes he is ready and capable to make the leap to international football, so the Under-17 World Cup winner could start a game for England before he has been named in a Premier League starting line-up by the Blues.
With full-backs playing such a key role in Southgate’s system, it will be interesting to see whether he sticks or twists. Leicester’s Ben Chilwell has started the Three Lions’ last five matches but did not pull up any trees on Friday evening and Danny Rose offers an experienced alternative in Podgorica. Manchester City right-back Kyle Walker was not at his flying best against the Czech Republic either but is the only member of the 20-man squad to have been involved in a match in Montenegro. If Southgate decides against Walker, former Tottenham team-mate Kieran Trippier would surely relish the chance to answer questions about his recent form.
50 not out for Henderson
Liverpool midfielder Jordan Henderson will reach the milestone of 50 caps if he plays a part in the game in Podgorica. The 28-year-old, who will face the media before Monday’s match, made his Three Lions bow in 2010 and was part of Southgate’s squad that reached the World Cup semi-final. Henderson has yet to score an international goal, even missing his penalty in the shoot-out win over Colombia last summer, so a first senior strike in another England win would be a good way to toast the occasion in the Balkans.
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