England vs Malta: UEFA European Championship Qualification Preview, 2023
Bukayo Saka runs with the ball under pressure during England's 4-0 win over Malta in June. Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images. 

England go in search of a perfect home record in UEFA EURO 2024 qualifying on Friday as they welcome bottom-placed Malta to Wembley Stadium. 

It has been another faultless campaign for the Three Lions as they sit atop Group C with a place secured at next summer's tournament. 16 points out of a possible 18 have been achieved as Gareth Southgate's team have asserted their dominance in the group, only dropping points in a 1-1 draw with Ukraine in September. 

England have a chance to go another qualification phase without a home defeat, a record that has been ongoing for a near decade-and-a-half since the infamous 3-2 defeat to Croatia in November 2007. Last month's 3-1 win over Italy last month extended the feat to 36 matches.

Malta's task requires them to not only cause a huge upset, but do so against a nation they have lost all six encounters with. It is a challenge made improbable given Michele Marcolini's side are yet to register a point in the group and are on course for their worst performance in qualification since 2000. 

The 171st-ranked nation have defeated Luxembourg (0-1) and Gibraltar (1-0) but are on a competitive winless run that has seen them fail to obtain a competitive point in eight matches since their 1-0 UEFA Nations League win over San Marino in June 2022. 

On the positive, Malta do boast the highlight of scoring against England. It came in June 2000 when David Carabott's retaken spot-kick struck the post before deflecting in off goalkeeper Richard Wright. It was a slice of luck that drew them level on the day and one that the team will be hopeful of if they are to achieve something in London.  

Team News


Southgate has been forced into a number of changes to the initial squad that was released last week. 

The standout absentee is Jude Bellingham. The 2023 Kopa Trophy winner underwent tests at St. Georges' Park this week and withdrew due to a shoulder injury sustained during Real Madrid's 0-0 draw with Rayo Vallecano. 

Levi Colwill was also examined and had to drop out due to a shoulder injury he picked up in Chelsea training. He missed last weekend's thrilling 4-4 draw with Manchester City as a result. 

In response to additional withdrawals from James Maddison (ankle), Lewis Dunk (groin), and Callum Wilson (hamstring), Southgate has given maiden call-ups to Aston Villa centre-back Ezri Konsa, Chelsea's Cole Palmer, and Man City's versatile full-back Rico Lewis. 

Marcus Rashford and Kalvin Phillips were late arrivals to camp due to 'personal issues' and it remains to be seen whether that will have an impact on their involvement on Friday.  


Marcolini has not had to contend with the same issues as his counterpart with available information suggesting the 48-year-old has a full squad at his disposal.

One new face in his team will be Jamaica-born Kemar Reid. The Floriana midfielder has been a standout player in the Maltese Premier League this season; he has six goals and two assists to his name in seven appearances, which has helped his team to the top of the table.

Reid was granted his Maltese citizenship through naturalisation in October and it is expected he will make his international debut against England. 

Predicted Line-ups 


Pickford; Walker, Maguire, Guehi, Trippier; Alexander-Arnold, Henderson, Rice; Bowen, Kane, Foden. 


Bonello; S. Borg, J.Borg, Pepe; Attard, Muscat, Guillaumier, Teuma, Camenzuli; Jones, P. Mbong. 

Key Players

England: Trent Alexander-Arnold 

Alexander-Arnold has often been a peripheral figure throughout his England career, one that has been plagued injuries and Southgate's preference for Kyle Walker and Kieran Trippier. 

Opportunities have been hard to come by, which surprises most given his standout qualities, and he's been involved just twice during this qualification campaign, starting the comfortable wins over Malta and North Macedonia.  

In order to get his chance, the full-back has been utilised in midfield, an area of the pitch he is familiar with due to the hybrid role he has at under Jurgen Klopp, and he has thrived when done so, playing a starring role in the reverse fixture in which his passing repertoire was on full show. 

The 25-year-old was key in the first two goals; he provided a sweeping pass into the path of Bukayo Saka in the build-up to Ferdinando Apap's own goal, before producing an outstanding strike from outside of the area that flew into the top left corner. 

With England's passage confirmed, Southgate may trial a few players ahead of next summer's tournament and Alexander-Arnold is expected to be the one to fill the Bellingham-shaped void in midfield.   

Malta: Jodi Jones 

The London-born midfielder is not a name most England supporters will be familiar with, but those that follow the EFL will know his story. 

Jones has at last found his feet in a career that has endured heavy turbulence, having suffered ACL injuries in three consecutive years that put his time playing football under huge threat. With that all behind him, he is now thriving and has 11 international caps to show for it. 

A former team-mate of James Maddison's at Coventry City, the 26-year-old has registered eight assists in 15 League Two appearances this season, a tally that no one in the EFL's entirety can match, as well as three goals. Since October's international break he has contributed six assists and one goal in nine appearances for Notts County. 

Opportunities will be few and far between for Malta, therefore the visitors will need to capitalise on the chance(s) they get. In Jones they have a player that is capable of creating a scoring situation. 

It would be rather fitting if the winger was to get his maiden international goal or provide an assist against the nation he was born, raised, and spent his entire career in. 

Match Information 

Where is the game being played? 

Wembley Stadium, London. 

What time is kick-off? 

Kick-off is at 19:45 (GMT) on Friday, 17 November, 2023. 

How can I watch?

This fixture is being broadcasted in the United Kingdom on Channel 4.