Hodgson to hurry Kane
Much of the talk in the build-up to England’s match has been if and how Harry Kane will feature at Wembley tonight. Roy Hodgson’s personal notes on the training ground earlier this week, caught by eagle-eyed photographers, suggested that Kane could start alongside Wayne Rooney as a front two, but it’s unclear whether this is a plan for tonight or the Italy friendly. The uncapped Spurs man would certainly fancy himself against the Lithuanian defence, and with the other striking option in Danny Welbeck – Daniel Sturridge pulled out with injury – short on club goals in comparison it would seem tonight is a better time than ever to give the 21 year-old a go.
Squad withdrawals not a problem
International breaks sometimes seem as synonymous with players withdrawing from duty as the actual fixtures. This time around, Roy Hodgson has seen Sturridge, Fraser Forster, Adam Lallana, Luke Shaw and Shaw’s replacement Danny Rose all pull out with injuries, but the England boss should be more than equipped to see off the Lithuanian visitors. Leighton Baines and Kieran Gibbs are the remaining left back options in the squad and both are more than capable at this level, while between Rooney, Kane and Welbeck there should be enough goals up top. Replacing Lallana with the more deep-lying Ryan Mason is a strange one but certainly not a decision that Hodgson will be made to regret.
Walker to wait his turn
The last time Kyle Walker was fit for England, he started at right back in a friendly defeat to Germany at Wembley in 2013. Since then, there have been a few options tried in the position in his absence, with Glen Johnson taking the spot during the World Cup, but in Nathaniel Clyne it looks as if we have found a long-term answer. Walker has rejoined the national set-up for the first time since being fit again, but he would be unwise to expect an immediate return to the England starting line-up. The full back has made a couple of errors that have directly led to Tottenham Hotspur conceding goals since coming back, while Clyne has been exemplary at club level before and since being called up for England late last year, where he impressed against Scotland and Slovenia. If Walker is to get a start in the next few days, it will more likely be in Italy than tonight.
Carrick to play well, then get dumped again
Michael Carrick is a player that divides opinion but it’s hard to argue that someone playing at the level he has, with Premier League and Champions League honours, should probably have more than the 31 England caps he has since his debut in 2001. Carrick certainly hasn’t done much wrong at international level, but has always been on the periphery for England due to other, more dynamic options. The Manchester United man will start tonight in place of the injured Jack Wilshere and it doesn’t need saying that Carrick will be effortlessly pulling strings from deep as England look to cut through the Lithuanian resistance. It’s just as inevitable, though, that the moment Wilshere and co return to fitness 33 year-old Carrick will find himself on the England bench again or even out of the squad altogether. He’s surely used to it now.
Rooney to get one step closer to the all-time record
Three Lions captain Wayne Rooney is just three England goals behind Sir Bobby Charlton’s record of 49, and it’s only a matter of when rather than if he will make history. The 29 year-old has surely several years to chase Charlton’s total, but shouldn’t need them with Euro 2016 qualifying group opposition such as Lithuania ahead of him. It would a be a surprise if Rooney doesn’t at least get on the scoresheet once this evening, and should England break the deadlock early on we could even get excited for the record being equaled tonight. For now, though, Rooney will settle on inching closer to the milestone.