England vs San Marino LIVE: Latest updates from World Cup qualifier tonight
England host San Marino to begin World Cup 2022 qualification and the road to Qatar.
Gareth Southgate’s side will be keen to find form quickly as they look to generate momentum for Euro 2020 this summer.
In an exciting Three Lions squad, Southgate may hand chances to Jude Bellingham and Ollie Watkins, though Jack Grealish, Jadon Sancho, Tammy Abraham, Harvey Barnes and Danny Ings are all out injured. Nick Pope will also be filling in for Jordan Pickford in goal, while Luke Shaw’s recent impressive performances for Manchester United should see him start on the left-hand side of defence.
The England boss has also vowed to lead a “unified” front against discrimination: “I have spoken with the leadership team about this last night and I’ve asked them to talk to the other players,” he said when asked if they would take the knee on Thursday. I think it’s a good process to hear each other’s views, first and foremost. That’s part of how we educate ourselves on all of these issues.
“The one thing we are clear on is that we’ll be unified on whatever we do and if there’s any doubt then I think we would take the knee. I’m hugely respectful of everyone’s individual opinions on that. I still think there is an impact to be had on it. But when I listen to Wilfried Zaha’s comments, for example, I thought he spoke really well and I totally understand why he felt that wasn’t enough now and it just seemed to be part of the background.
“Again, complicated. The debate around if we take the knee or not, or if we should walk off the pitch or not, they’re actually slightly peripheral things. The core problems are with racism and discrimination – they’re the deeper discussions that need to happen. The protests help put that conversation on the table but of course we’ve got to address the much deeper issues as much as we’ve got to make a symbolic gesture.”
England 0 – 0 San Marino
Kick off: Both teams take the knee before the game gets underway as a show of solidarity against racism. Filippo Berardi kicks off the match for San Marino.
Michael Jones25 March 2021 19:47
Here come the teams
Raheem Sterling captains the Three Lions at Wembley tonight. He leads the team out onto the pitch. Nick Pope gets the nod in goal and there are recalls for John Stones and Jesse Lingard.
The national anthems are played and kick off is up next…
Michael Jones25 March 2021 19:40
England have more depth
Gareth Southgate says that England now have the luxury of more depth in their squad than they had in Russia 2018 for the World Cup. Southgate puts this down in part to the emergence of more English players getting minutes in the Premier League.
English players are on average playing 10% more in England’s top-flight than they were before the World Cup and are producing more creative players according to Southgate:
Michael Jones25 March 2021 19:34
Michael Jones25 March 2021 19:27
Stones reflects on being dropped by England
John Stones is making a return to the national side tonight to play his first international game since 2019. He was a crucial part of England’s 2018 World Cup squad before falling out of favour at Man City.
However, this season has seen a turn around in his form as he’s formed a formidable defensive partnership with Ruben Dias for City. It’s enough to have earned him a recall, something he says motivated him to keep going.
“It was very tough and I think it would be the same for everyone,” Stones said. “It was difficult watching from home. You feel a bit helpless that you can’t contribute and be a part of the squad, but I used it as a motivation to strive to be better.”
Michael Jones25 March 2021 19:21
Southgate talks Stones and Lingard
Gareth Southgate spoke about the inclusions of John Stones and Jesse Lingard in England’s starting XI this evening and he had nothign but praise for the two players who have fought their way back into the national side. He said:
“They have earned the right. John has had an excellent season throughout and Jesse since he has been on loan at West Hamhas had a very good spell. We know they can play at this level, we’re really comfortable with them being with us.”
Michael Jones25 March 2021 19:14
Updates on Marcus Rashford and Bukayo Saka
Michael Jones25 March 2021 19:06
On the up!
San Marino are the lowest-ranked football team in the world. With a population of around 30,000, the microstate on the hills above the Italian Riviera it has a tiny pool of potential players many of whom have other jobs whilst representing their country on the international stage.
They are regularly beaten by big margins but they have drawn two of their last three games, both 0-0, against Liechtenstein and Gibraltar in the Nations League. They were also down to 10 men for over 40 minutes in the draw with Gibraltar back in November.
Michael Jones25 March 2021 18:58
Euros places up for grabs
These three matches will provide the young and fringe players in Gareth Southgate’s squad to make their case for a spot at this summer’s European Championship.
Players like Dominic Calvert-Lewin, Kalvin Phillips and even Jesse Lingard need to take their opportunities to stake a case for a spot on the plane.
Michael Jones25 March 2021 18:49
England’s qualifying group
England’s World Cup qualifying group consists of Albania, Andorra, Hungary, Poland, San Marino and the Three Lions themselves. Tonight’s opening fixture should see them take control of a group which shouldn’t prove too tasking for Gareth Southgate’s men.
Also on the cards for this international break is an away match against Albania on Sunday, though there are concerns about whether it will go ahead, and a return to Wembley next Wednesday where England will face Poland.
Michael Jones25 March 2021 18:42