This weekend’s European Championship 2016 Qualifier between England and Slovenia should give us a good idea of just how prepared for the potential summer tournament our nation’s team is. With a handful of surprise call-ups and even the omission of the on-form Harry Kane, there is much to be learnt from England’s trip to the Stozice Stadium, Ljubljana this Sunday. Here are the Five Things we can expect.
It won’t be as boring as the Republic Of Ireland Game
After a dull, goalless draw with the Republic of Ireland, If England are to wrap up their qualification for the tournament in France next summer, they will undoubtedly need to show some more intensity against Slovenia this weekend. Should they prevail in the trip to Ljubljana, it will be the first time the Three Lions have ended the competitive season unbeaten for 24 years, which will leave them in fantastic stead for the fast approaching and hugely exciting EURO 2016 campaign. An unnecessarily close game was endured as England faced Republic Of Ireland however with this game holding a significant importance in England’s search for EURO 2016 qualification, there is no doubt that both Roy and the players will be eager to brush off their dismal performance of last week and shine in Sunday’s tie.
We’ll get a good look at England’s Back-Four
Sunday will gee us a clear look at the quality of the current crop of English defenders, a chance we weren’t given in the dreary and drab draw with Republic Of Ireland. With the exciting prospects of both Nathaniel Clyne and Ryan Bertrand as well as the marshalling and experienced Gary Cahill and Phil Jagielka just a few options along with Phil Jones and Chris Smalling, there is no dearth in talent in the England back-line but there has been few chances to see just how well they can handle the pressures of top-level international football. Slovenia could potentially give us a very good look and hopefully a good response.
Austin And Vardy will have the chance to show their potency
Premier League hit-man Charlie Austin, 25, has been called up to Roy Hodgson’s England side after scoring 17 goals for Q.P.R this season, along with 28-year-old Vardy, who helped the Foxes escape relegation in dramatic fashion. The duo come into a squad that has won seven and drawn one of their eight internationals this season and will be hoping that they will have the chance to show their pedigree on the International stage. With the two competing for starting time with established England forwards Danny Welbeck and Wayne Rooney, they will be aware they their chances may be fleeting on Sunday but they will also be crucial. A goal from either player in Sunday’s qualifier will immediately put them in the forefront of Hodgson’s thinking for the intense qualification games still yet to play later in the year as well as the prospective tournament in France, given all goes well before the summer of 2016.
Joe Hart will show his experience
The clean sheet against Ireland last week means that Joe Hart has passed Ray Clemence in the all-time list to go fourth among England goalkeepers for clean sheets with 28 in 51 caps. Ahead of him are Gordon Banks (35), David Seaman (40) and the all-time leader Peter Shilton (66). Hart has improved hugely over this season and was undoubtedly one of Manchester city’s key players with stand-out performances such as his heroic display against Barcelona in the Champions League and his phenomenal performance against Swansea in his side’s dramatic 4-2 over the Swans. Hart has become a key player for both club and country as his experience and talent have made him a stead-fast between the sticks for both. Hart will be crucial to England’s qualification for next summer’s tournament and will undoubtedly play a huge part if and when England start their campaign in France in 2016.
Wayne Rooney could break a record
An interesting sub-plot to the England tie this Sunday and surely resinating throughout the England camp at the moment is the chance that captain Wayne Rooney has to become the country’s all-time leading goalscorer. The 29-year-old Manchester United star currently has 47 goals for the senior side so far and stands just just two shy of the record set by Sir Bobby Charlton. He could break that as early as this Sunday with a hat-trick and with England taking on a side ranked 48th in the world by FIFA, the opportunity is definitely there to be had. With Harry Kane still earning his stripes in the U-21′s and only Danny Welbeck as a genuine, experienced partner, it will more than likely fall to Wayne to get the goals for England and with that in mind, he will surely be looking for a couple so he can cement his pale in England international football history even further.