England v Malta

England v Malta

England will be hoping to end a controversial build up to the 2018 World Cup Group F qualifier with a solid performance against Malta at the Wembley Stadium on Saturday.

England will be hoping to end a controversial build up to the 2018 World Cup Group F qualifier with a solid performance against Malta at the Wembley Stadium on Saturday.

The abrupt end to the reign of Sam Allardyce tenure after corruption allegations has clouded the build up to the fixture with U21 head coach Gareth Southgate stepping up in a caretaker capacity.

The performances against Malta this weekend and Slovenia on Tuesday will go a long way to determining if Southgate has what it takes to take on the role on a more permanent basis.

The late 1-0 win against Slovakia in Trnava was Allardyce's first and last match as Three Lions boss in a group the tournament England are expected to qualify from with ease.

etro Ghedin's men ended their first fixture with nine men at the wrong end of a 5-1 thrashing at the hands of Scotland, despite going into the break at 1-1.

Southgate has already had to make two changes to his first squad, with Raheem Sterling and Glen Johnson replaced by Andros Townsend and Michael Keane due to injury.

Jamie Vardy is likely to lead the line in the absence of Harry Kane while 18-year-old forward Manchester United's Marcus Rashford is also in with a chance of a starting berth on the flank.

Joe Hart's loan move in order to get first-team football at Serie A side Torino is likely to see him keep his place in goal but the biggest debate is where Southgate will field Rooney.

Defender Phil Jagielka has been withdrawn from the squad due to a thigh injury along with earlier injury blows of defender Glen Johnson and in-form Manchester City winger Raheem Sterling.