Lithuania pose little threat to England’s perfect record
The inclusion of Harry Kane in Roy Hodgson’s squad has been the focus of attention ahead of England’s latest Euro 16 qualifier – it will hopefully be the start of a long and successful career for the in-form Tottenham striker. He shouldn’t feel out of place in the England ranks having served his apprenticeship with the U21s.
The 21-year-old also has plenty of European experience while club mate Danny Rose, a late call-up, has similar credentials but Ryan Mason, the third member of Spurs’ untried triumvirate, has only broken into the first team this season.
A photographed slip of paper allegedly showing Kane and Mason in a revolutionary starting line-up has been doing the press rounds but it’s difficult to believe that the manager will ditch Danny Welbeck, Raheem Sterling and Jordan Henderson, who have all been instrumental in England winning all four qualifiers so far.
Hodgson has lost Daniel Sturridge, Adam Lallana and Luke Shaw from his original squad but he’s not the type of man to take a gamble unless forced into a corner and it’s more likely that the Spurs trio will be on the bench at Wembley this Friday against Lithuania.
England have won all six matches since that disastrous World Cup campaign and only Slovenia and Scotland have managed to score a goal past Joe Hart. Their last two performances have been particularly impressive and captain Wayne Rooney is aiming to find the net for the fifth game in a row as he closes on Sir Bobby Charlton’s England record.
Rooney is one of several England players coming into this match in sparkling form and they should have far too much for Lithuania.
This is the first-ever meeting of the two sides and a momentous one for Igori Pankratievas’ team but nothing they’ve done in qualifying so far suggests they’ll be strong enough to deny England (3/25) another three points in Group E.
They’ve beaten Estonia and minnows San Marino but were hammered in Switzerland and also lost at home to Slovenia. They didn’t register a goal in either of the latter two games and aren’t prolific scorers overall so England complacency looks their only hope at Wembley as none of their strikers are exactly first choice at their clubs.
Rangers’ defender Marius Zaliukas is probably the only player that British fans will recognise.
England usually take a while to warm up at Wembley but should brush aside Lithuania with the minimum of fuss and look a decent bet to keep a clean sheet at 2/5. The second half is fancied to feature most goals at 10/11.
The match kicks off at 7.45pm on Friday, March 27 at Wembley.