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England all but secured passage to Qatar with a 5-0 win over Albania last time out, so expect Gareth Southgate to give some of his lesser used players an opportunity against group whipping boys San Marino. This game is set to be played out like a pre-season friendly if England’s second half against Albania is anything to go by, but the influx of fresh blood should give The Three Lions something of an impetus.
Not that they need it against a side that has scored once and conceded 36 in their nine group games to date, with their one goal coming in an eight-goal thriller against Poland. San Marino have lost all nine games by a minimum of two goals and even lost 5-0 on aggregate against fellow whipping boys Andorra.
Monday 7.45pm – San Marino v England
Southgate’s side seem to have developed a neurosis about scoring more than five goals in a group game, winning three of their nine group games to date 5-0, despite running up a cricket score in the first half.
They have failed to show the ruthless instinct that Germany showed in their 9-0 win over Liechtenstein and seem to take their foot off the gas once they have gained an unassailable lead. England ran out 5-0 winners at Wembley on the opening day of their qualifying campaign and it would be very surprising if they didn’t record a similar result on Monday.
Tammy Abraham has not set the world alight since moving to Rome over the summer, scoring just three goals in 12 games in domestic competitions. However, he will have an excellent chance to bolster his confidence in a pressure-free environment in the tiny principality on Monday evening.
Abraham has only scored one other goal for England in this current qualifying campaign, notching England’s third during a 5-0 win over Andorra in October. His opportunities at international level appear to be limited to games against Europe’s minnows for the present time due to the presence of far superior attacking players in the England squad. However, that won’t stop him from finding the back of the net against a side that has conceded an average of four goals a game so far.
There is no need for Kane to feature on Monday given that England’s under-17 side could comfortably avoid defeat in San Marino and secure their place at the World Cup, but he will undoubtedly be desperate to feature at some point. Kane scored a much-needed hat-trick against Albania and will hope that it will help kickstart his stuttering club season into life.
He will not be keen to let an opportunity to score more meaningless goals against an inferior international side pass him by as he looks to simultaneously inject some momentum into his season and chase down Wayne Rooney’s all-time England goal-scoring record.
Kane featured in the facile home win over Andorra in September and could easily see some minutes on Monday. If that does come to pass, there is every chance he will bag a brace against a side ranked dead last in the FIFA World Rankings in 210th place.
Emile Smith Rowe came off the bench against Albania to make his England debut and can expect to see more minutes in San Marino on Monday night.
The Arsenal midfielder has been in scintillating form this season, scoring four goals to already record a personal best of four league goals and five goals in all competitions.
He will have an opportunity to make this season even more memorable on Monday night if he can notch his first international goal.
Smith Rowe has averaged one shot on target per game in the Premier League this season for Arsenal and attempts almost two efforts on goal per game.
He is bound to try a few more efforts against Europe’s worst team in a game that means literally nothing.
It wouldn’t be surprising to see Smith Rowe open his international account on Monday night given his outstanding club form, but it certainly wouldn’t be surprising to see him land two shots on target against an opponent that has faced 88 shots on target in this qualifying campaign.
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