England predicted line-up vs. Malta: ten changes made as Chelsea and Aston Villa men return
All the latest England team news, injury updates, and predicted XI ahead of their European Championship qualification game against Malta.
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England will continue their preparation for Euro 2024 on Friday night with a clash against Malta at Wembley. The Three Lions have already qualified for next summer's tournament in Germany, but will be looking to maintain their recent good form with a routine victory over the visiting minnows.
There's also the all-important top spot of the group to focus on, as England look to secure a favourable draw for the upcoming competition.
Gareth Southgate's men have not lost a game in almost a year, with their last defeat coming against France in the quarter final of the Qatar World Cup last December. Since then, they have embarked on an unbeaten run of eight matches, and currently top Group C with 16 points from six outings, and a game in hand over second-placed Ukraine.
This weekend will see England wrap up their qualification campaign with one last double-header of winnable fixtures, firstly against Malta on Friday, and then against North Macedonia on Monday evening. Away in Ta'Qali, the Three Lions coasted to a 4-0 victory, with an own goal, followed by a Trent Alexander-Arnold strike and a brace of penalties from Harry Kane and Callum Wilson, wrapping up all three points in a comfortable display.
But how will England line up this time around, and who is likely to miss out on Friday's clash? We've taken a look at the latest Three Lions teams news and posted our predicted starting XI below...
England Team News
The main question surrounding England's team selection on Friday is just how experimental Gareth Southgate will be given the lack of stakes and the relatively minor nature of the opposition. Certainly, this would be an ideal opportunity to hand debuts to the likes of Cole Palmer, Rico Lewis, and Ezri Konsa, although it may well be that they have to settle for cameo appearances from the bench. The trio were called up late in the day to replace the injured James Maddison, Callum Wilson, and Lewis Dunk, but will no doubt be eager to make an impression on the manager, whether it be against Malta, or North Macedonia on Monday.
Elsewhere, England are set to be without Jude Bellingham and Levi Colwill, with both players unavailable due to ongoing shoulder injuries. Bellingham in particular has established himself as an integral part of the Three Lions' squad in recent months, and his absence is likely to be felt quite keenly. Both Marcus Rashford and Kalvin Phillips should be in contention to feature, despite linking up with Southgate's squad late due to personal reasons.
Again, however, it is worth reiterating that we could see a vastly altered England side at Wembley from the one that beat Italy 3-1 in October, with next week's trip to North Macedonia arguably representing the tougher challenge this international break. As such, don't be surprised to see starts for the likes of Aston Villa striker Ollie Watkins, as well as Liverpool's Trent Alexander-Arnold, who made quite the impression in midfield when England last player Malta back in June.
England Predicted XI
Sam Johnstone; Rico Lewis, Marc Guehi, Fikayo Tomori, Kieran Trippier; Trent Alexander-Arnold, Jordan Henderson, Conor Gallagher; Jarrod Bowen, Ollie Watkins, Jack Grealish.