England face Slovenia in Ljubljana for a European Championship qualifier where they will be looking to extend their winning run in Group E to six wins out of six.
The Three Lions’ last outing was a dreary 0-0 draw in Dublin against the Republic of Ireland. The friendly had a very ‘end of season’ flavour with neither side able to conjure up a winning goal and Roy Hodgson will be hoping for a more exuberant display against a Slovenia side whose previous match was an embarrassing 1-0 defeat to Qatar in March.
The two sides have only met three times at international level. The most recent encounter was the qualifier at Wembley in November, where England recovered to win 3-1 after going behind to Jordan Henderson’s own goal.
This remains the only goal that Hodgson’s side have conceded in a qualifying campaign which has gone some way to restoring some pride after the Three Lions’ desperately disappointing World Cup campaign.
Slovenia currently sit second in Group E, six points behind England. In their last qualifying match they thrashed San Marino 6-0 but the game against the group toppers will prove a much tougher test.
Realistically, the hosts are competing for second place as England would appear to be well in the clear to qualify for the European Championships in top spot. However, Roy Hodgson will surely warn his players not to underestimate their opponents particularly given the end-of-season malaise which seemed to affect some of his players at the Aviva last Sunday.
Having disappointed against Ireland, England captain Wayne Rooney will be aiming to get the two goals needed to tie Bobby Charlton’s all-time goalscoring record of 49.
Fellow striker Danny Welbeck is missing with a knee injury, meaning Theo Walcott is in contention to replace his Arsenal team-mate.
Midfielder Fabian Delph is back in contention for selection having missed the Ireland friendly with a knock picked up in the FA Cup final, whilst Southampton’s Nathanial Clyne is expected to replace Manchester United’s Phil Jones at right-back.
Slovenia have no major injury concerns, but manager Srecko Katanec will have to decide whether or not to stick with experienced goalkeeper Samir Handanovic or select Atletico Madrid’s Jan Oblak for only his sixth cap.
Shoot Says: Slovenia 0-1 England