England are up against Estonia in their penultimate qualifying round game, and there is plenty room to manoeuvre for Roy Hodgson as the Three Lions have already qualified for next summer’s finals in France. England have won all their games in the group and lead second-placed Switzerland by nine points – if I were to put my betting bonus on a winner, it would be England 10 times out of 10. On the other hand Estonia’s qualification hopes are hanging by a thread, and they will definitely need a win to harbour any hopes of a playoff place.
Estonia are two points behind third-placed Slovenia and five behind Switzerland and a win tomorrow, although unlikely, is an absolute must for them to qualify for next summer’s finals. They next face Switzerland on Tuesday, which is also a difficult fixture, and coach Magnus Pehrsson will be sceptical about his team’s chances of making it through.
Meanwhile, Hodgson faces a tricky test of his managerial nous as England need to win at least one of their last two games to make sure of their qualification as one of the seeded teams, which will clearly help their cause when the draw will be made after the November round of playoffs to determine the final entrants into the competition. Hence, he could ill-afford to slip up at home with a weakened line-up.
England vs Estonia: Team News
Captain and all-time record goalscorer Wayne Rooney is likely to miss out after he suffered a knock in his ankle in Manchester United’s weekend loss against Arsenal. Swansea midfielder Jonjo Shelvey is a doubt, while Liverpool striker Danny Ings, who has made it to the senior team for the first time, is a major doubt.
However, one player who could make his debut is Tottenham Hotspur midfielder Dele Alli, who has also made it to the senior team for the first time. Spurs duo Andros Townsend and Kyle Walker has been roped in to fill in for the injury casualties Shelvey and John Stones, who has already left the camp.
Estonia, who have never won against England, will welcome Aleksandr Dmitrijev back into the fold following his one-game suspension, while left-back Dmitri Kruglov is expected to win his 100th cap for the national team.