England manager Sam Allardyce will make three changes for his first match in charge against Slovakia on Sunday (7pm) in their opening Group F qualifier for the 2018 World Cup in Russia, British media reported.
Defender John Stones plus midfielders Jordan Henderson and Adam Lallana are recalled, replacing Chris Smalling, Dele Alli and Daniel Sturridge from the team that suffered a shock 2-1 defeat by Iceland in the last 16 at Euro 2016.
Goalkeeper Joe Hart, who has left Manchester City for Torino on a season-long loan after falling out of favour under Pep Guardiola, keeps his place for the game at Trnava’s City Arena.
Manchester City’s new £47.5 million signing Stones, who did not feature at the Euros in France, will partner Cahill in central defence, with Tottenham Hotspur’s Kyle Walker and Danny Rose retained in the full-back positions.
Eric Dier holds on to the defensive midfield role alongside Henderson, with captain Wayne Rooney, who will become England’s most capped outfield player surpassing David Beckham’s 115, in an attacking role just behind forward Harry Kane.
Raheem Sterling and Lallana will play on the flanks.
England were held to a disappointing 0-0 draw by Slovakia in the group stage at Euro 2016 after then manager Roy Hodgson surprisingly made several changes to his team but Allardyce reckons they will be a different proposition at home.
“I didn’t watch them in the Euros because I think different tactics will be used by Slovakia when they are playing at home,” he was quoted as saying by The Independent website.
“They only needed a point in the Euros, so they sat back and were very defensively minded and really chose not to attack at all because they only needed a point. I think the onus will now be on them to come and attack us and win their home game.
“It will be very important for them and their manager and that might hopefully leave our creative players a little bit more space to break them down where they failed in the Euros.”
However, Allardyce, who rejected the chance to play a warm-up friendly at Wembley Stadium, knows he is already under pressure to ensure England get off to a good start.
“Massively, yes,” he said. “And there is a huge need to at the very least come back with a result.”
Joe Hart; Kyle Walker, Gary Cahill, John Stones, Danny Rose; Eric Dier, Jordan Henderson; Adam Lallana, Wayne Rooney, Raheem Sterling; Harry Kane