England vs Bulgaria preview: No Maddison, no Mount... Gareth Southgate sticks with trusted side
Watch highlights of England's European Qualifier against Bulgaria from 15 minutes after full-time on SkySports.com; kick-off 5pm
By Nick Wright and Rob Dorsett
Last Updated: 07/09/19 5:01pm
Gareth Southgate will avoid the temptation to experiment with his starting XI for the European Qualifier with Bulgaria, Sky Sports News understands.
Southgate will leave Mason Mount, James Maddison and Tyrone Mings on the bench, while Danny Rose is set to start at left-back ahead of Ben Chilwell.
- England expected XI vs Bulgaria: Pickford; Trippier, Keane or Gomez, Maguire, Rose; Henderson, Rice, Barkley; Sterling, Rashford, Kane
His former Tottenham team-mate Kieran Trippier will be preferred to Trent Alexander-Arnold at right-back, as Southgate opts for experience in his first international of the new season.
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Southgate is also expected to include two defensive-minded midfielders, as both Declan Rice and Jordan Henderson are due to start in preference to the attacking talents of Mount, Maddison and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain.
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It's thought Ross Barkley will keep his place, after three starts in Chelsea's four Premier League games so far.
Maddison has created 109 chances in the Premier League since the start of last season, 10 more than any other player and 39 more than any other Englishman. He will start the game on the bench, as will Mount, who only made his Premier League debut three weeks ago, but has scored twice in four Premier League games so far.
Jesse Lingard missed training on Friday with a small illness, and with Marcus Rashford put forward to talk to the media in the pre-match news conference, it now seems inevitable that England's front three will be Harry Kane, Raheem Sterling and Rashford.
Southgate says the selection headache is welcome, explaining on Friday: "The competition for places is a great thing for us. As a coach, that's an enjoyable problem to have."
England are aiming to maintain their perfect start to qualifying having thrashed the Czech Republic and Montenegro back in March, and with the tournament itself under a year away, Southgate knows he needs to use every opportunity he can get to shape a side capable of winning silverware.
'England have it all to prove'
Ahead of the double-header against Bulgaria and Kosovo, Southgate says England, who sit fourth in the world rankings, still have much to prove in international football, insisting anybody is capable of beating his side.
"I think we've got everything to prove in terms of where we're pitched in world rankings. I think we're competitive against any team, but equally I think there are a number of teams who, on their day - as was proven in the summer - are capable of beating us.
"We have to keep striving to improve and I think the mentality of the team is to do that, they're hungry to do that, they want to do that, they want to keep learning, we want to keep pushing each other every day in training, and if we do that, we'll take those performances onto the field. So for us, I'm looking forward to the new international season, if you like.
I think that we have started to put together an exciting team that now sells out Wembley very quickly. Hopefully, we are playing in a style that the supporters look forward to
"Every day, we have to work to be the best we can be and over the last couple for years, I think that we have started to put together an exciting team that now sells out Wembley very quickly. Hopefully, we are playing in a style that the supporters look forward to."
Sancho's progress to continue?
Jadon Sancho will be eager to add to his six England caps against Bulgaria from the bench. The 19-year-old has made a big impact since his promotion to Southgate's senior squad and his impressive start to the campaign with Borussia Dortmund suggests his rapid progress is likely to continue.
In three Bundesliga starts, Sancho has already contributed two goals and three assists. Last month, he was handed a lucrative new contract by Dortmund, reflecting his growing importance to the side and further enhancing his reputation as one of the world's most exciting young players.
Southgate had nothing but praise for Sancho on Friday.
"Jadon, in terms of his game, is hugely exciting in terms of his balance, the quality of his crosses - he gets into areas behind defences and the way that Dortmund play is a significant part of that. He plays lots of those low crosses across the six-yard box.
"What I really like is his decision-making. When he's moving at speed, he's able to get his head up and make the right decisions in terms of weight of pass, which pass is the best one to pick out. And that's not an easy thing to do when you're travelling at speed with the ball.
"Very often a lesser player has got to focus on the ball itself, so you'll see him play, moving at speed and then identify an option of movement, outside what you would think would be his gaze, and I think that's a really difficult skill and something which is very exciting for him.
"So, his actual dribbling ability and ability to go past people is obvious, but I think that asset of his game is at the highest possible level."
Southgate wants his new-look England side to attack at speed and Sancho's pace and directness makes him an ideal fit. If the England boss persists with a front three against Bulgaria, it would be no surprise to see Sancho on one flank and Sterling on the other.
That set-up certainly worked in the 5-0 win over the Czech Republic in March, when Sterling smashed a hat-trick and Sancho gave Czech left-back Filip Novak a torrid evening on the opposite flank. Southgate could be tempted to revisit the approach against Bulgaria at Wembley. Right now, Sancho and Sterling would strike fear into any defence.
Group A as it stands
Coming up: September 7 - Kosovo vs Czech Republic, England vs Bulgaria; September 10 - Montenegro vs Czech Republic, England vs Kosovo
Watch England highlights for free on Sky Sports
Watch highlights of all of England's eight Euro 2020 qualifying games for free with Sky Sports - including England vs Bulgaria on Saturday and England vs Kosovo on Tuesday.
The best bits from each game will be available on SkySports.com, the Sky Sports app and the Sky Sports Football YouTube channel from 15 minutes after full-time - and you won't need a Sky Sports subscription to tune in.