England v Slovenia Preview: Kane to captain the Three Lions at Wembley

An England win would secure their place at next summer's World Cup in Russia. Slovenia need to win to stand a chance of qualifying for the tournament.

England v Slovenia Preview: Kane to captain the Three Lions at Wembley
(Photo via Getty Images/ Julian Finney)

Harry Kane will captain England against Slovenia at Wembley tomorrow night when the Three Lions will hope to put a seal on their 2018 World Cup Qualifying campaign.

Gareth Southgate’s men will officially secure a place at next summer’s tournament if they win just one of their remaining two fixtures, while two draws would also be enough.

With a final group game against Lithuania - ranked 120th in the FIFA world rankings - to come on Sunday, the chances of England being knocked off the top spot in Group F are slim.

That should allow Southgate to persevere with his side, which is still without a permanent captain following Wayne Rooney’s retirement from International football in August.

Kane was handed the armband in the games against Scotland and France in June, however Jordan Henderson took over the duties in the two qualifiers last month.

Southgate will also need to settle on a formation, after trialling a three at the back system earlier this year.

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Team news

Dele Alli is suspended after receiving a one-match ban for an inappropriate gesture in England’s victory over Slovakia last time out.

Jamie Vardy isn’t available due to a hip injury, while Fabian Delph and Phil Jones were also forced to withdraw from the squad.

In the qualifiers against Malta and Slovakia last month, Southgate reverted to a 4-2-3-1 formation to solidify his side’s position at the top of the group.

The England manager made it clear last month that Joe Hart is still his first choice goalkeeper, while Kyle Walker and Ryan Bertrand will be expected to keep their places in the full back roles..

Manchester City’s John Stones could return to the side in Jones’ absence. Further forward, Jordan Henderson and Eric Dier are likely to start the game in midfield.

Ahead of them, Raheem Sterling, Daniel Sturridge, Marcus Rashford, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Jesse Lingard will all hope to be selected in one of the three attacking positions behind Kane.

For Slovenia, Atletico Madrid goalkeeper Jan Oblak should start in goal.

Atalanta’s Josip Iličić is the country’s top scorer in qualifying with three goals, while Red Bull Leipzig’s Kevin Kampl is also one to watch.

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Last time out 

England were frustrated in the reverse fixture between the two nations back in October 2016, when Southgate’s men were held to a goalless draw in Ljubljana.

The visitors could still qualify for next summer’s tournament but will need to avoid defeat at Wembley, and then beat Scotland on Sunday to stand a chance of reaching the play-offs.

England have never lost to Slovenia in five previous meetings. The Three Lions haven’t lost a competitive match at Wembley since 2007 when they were beaten 3-2 by Croatia.

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"We want the country to be excited"

"They have to win the game," said Southgate when asked about the opposition in his pre-match press conference, adding "they haven't conceded many goals at all so it's a great challenge for us to change that stat."

The England boss went on to hail the "exciting attacking talent" in his squad and with the Three Lions one win away from qualification stated "we're excited about that and it's something we want the whole country to be excited about."