England secured top spot in their qualification group by battering a dreadful Montenegro side 7-0 at Wembley, so we can expect some rotation from Gareth Southgate with Tammy Abraham and the two sparring partners, Raheem Sterling and Joe Gomez all probable inclusions.
Gomez was jeered by the Wembley crowd on Thursday and newspaper reports indicate the English players want both Gomez and Sterling included in the starting team as a ‘show of unity’. This saga has really snowballed and been lapped up by an English media itching for some controversy to liven up a low-key international break.
Roy Keane spoke again last night on ITV about his brawl in a hotel lobby with Peter Schmeichel on a pre-season tour of Asia which left the former Danish superstar goalkeeper with a black eye after a Keane head-butt.
Schmeichel brushed the black eye off as having taken an elbow in training and both were internally disciplined by Alex Ferguson. The story was kept under wraps until Keane’s second autobiography in 2014.
Imagine if that incident happened now.
There would be video footage from the hotel, voice messages from various parties and photos from the lobby shared around Whatsapp groups all around the world.
It’s never been harder to keep a secret than in 2019 as further evidenced by the leaks coming out of the England camp and made the option of internal discipline trickier for Southgate.
The England manager can only hope this is the last public saga he has to deal with before Euro 2020.
We’ll move on to the main reason you’re reading this, the bets. Kosovo were defeated for only the second time in 19 internationals against the Czech Republic on Thursday to end their hopes of automatic qualification.
They are guaranteed a place in the playoffs based off their Nations League performances though, so I’d expect Kosovo to really go for this game in what I can only imagine will be one of the biggest sporting occasions in the young nation’s history.
The loss of Fenerbache striker Vedat Muriqi will is a blow, but I would expect Kosovo to still threaten a far from watertight English backline that they scored three goals against in the reverse fixture.
We know how strong England are going forward and their depth of talent in attack is good as it’s been for many a year, so goals should be expected here. Given that, both teams to score and over 2.5 goals makes a lot of appeal at 11/10. It’s also worth a smaller bet on both teams to score in the 1st half at 7/2.
Lastly, Marcus Rashford is worth backing at 13/10 to score anytime if he starts on Sunday. The United striker is in some of the best form of his career and was electric versus Montenegro. Expect him to get plenty of space on the counter-attack in what should be an open game.
* All odds correct at time of posting.