England v Slovakia preview: Eric Dier back in contention for Wembley clash
Last Updated: 04/09/17 8:00pm
Eric Dier will return from suspension for England when they host Slovakia in a World Cup Qualifier at Wembley on Monday evening.
The midfielder was unavailable for Friday's trip to Malta - which England won 4-0 thanks to a late flurry of goals - after picking up a booking against Scotland in June but is now back in contention.
England still have plenty of work to do before they can start to plan for a summer in Russia. With three games to play, they are all but assured of a top-two spot, but defeat at Wembley would see Slovakia go top of Group F with two games to play and sit in the only automatic qualification spot.
England needed a last-gasp Adam Lallana strike to beat Slovakia 1-0 in Trnava exactly a year ago in what was Sam Allardyce's only match as manager before being replaced by Gareth Southgate.
"We've got to assume Slovakia aren't going to come here and open up and make it easy for us," Southgate said. "It's apparent they've got some good footballers and who knows the way the game is going to flow? We have to be adaptable in the way that we perform.
"We know how we want to play. We've got an opponent that's going to want to stop us.
"We'd all love to score early and be three up by half-time. On some occasions that happens but it's not very often. So then you've got to prepared to be patient and work your openings.
"We believe the players are becoming more and more savvy to the challenges of international football."
Along with the return of Dier, Southgate has confirmed that Joe Hart, Phil Jones and Harry Kane will all retain their starting berths although the remainder of the positions are subject to change.
Jordan Henderson will again captain the side in Monday's encounter at Wembley, with the likes of Jesse Lingard and Harry Maguire hoping to be part of the matchday squad having missed out in Malta.
Slovakia will also welcome players back from suspension for the trip to London, with former Liverpool defender Martin Skrtel and Jan Durica in contention but goalkeeper Matus Kozacik has been ruled out with a back injury.
This will be the sixth meeting between England and Slovakia, with the Three Lions winning four of the previous five games (D1).
Slovakia have failed to score in each of their last three meetings with England (D1 L2). They last scored against England in a Euro 2004 Qualifier defeat in June 2003 (2-1).
Rooney: No England return as player
Wayne Rooney has ruled out a U-turn on his England retirement, but indicated he could return as manager.
The Three Lions have won their last 12 competitive matches at Wembley, a run that stretches back to October 2012 - it is their longest winning run in competitive matches at Wembley.
England haven't lost a home World Cup qualifier since their last match at the old Wembley, when they lost 1-0 to Germany in October 2000. Since then, they've won 19 and drawn two.
Harry Kane has been involved in six goals in his last three England internationals (five goals, one assist), as many as in his previous 17 combined.
Four of the eight goals England have conceded under Gareth Southgate have been scored in the 87th minute or later.
Slovakia's last away victory against a home nation came in September 2009, when they defeated Northern Ireland at Windsor Park in a World Cup qualifier.
Kane is the 5/2 favourite to score first, 4/1 to bag another brace and enhanced from 6/1 to 8/1 to score a header in Sky Bet's Price Boosts.
Adam Nemec is considered the visitors' main threat at 11/1 to break the deadlock, with an England clean sheet marginally odds-on.