Paul Merson picks his England team to face Slovenia in World Cup qualification

Paul Merson picks his England XI to play Slovenia

Paul Merson has picked his England XI to face Slovenia on Thursday with Gareth Southgate's side on the cusp of World Cup qualification.

England need just two points from their final two fixtures to clinch their place at next year's tournament in Russia, but they can qualify with a game to spare if they beat Slovenia at Wembley.

Southgate has important decisions to make in midfield and defence for the crucial qualifier, with Phil Jones injured and Dele Alli suspended.

The England boss is expected to start Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Raheem Sterling in an attacking line-up but how would Merse set up if he were in the hot seat?

"I would like to see them play three at the back," Merson said. "Firstly, I don't think we are great in defence and secondly, that system allows us more players in midfield, which helps us keep hold of the ball.

"When we've been to tournaments in the past we haven't been able to keep possession, but a 3-5-2 or a 3-4-2-1 would give us more options in the middle of the park. It also gives us a solid base.


Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain
Image: Sky sources understand Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain will get the nod - but Merse disagrees

"We don't have to go out and entertain we just have to make sure we are hard to beat because we have a world-class centre-forward in Harry Kane.

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"Kane is a certainty up front, and alongside him Marcus Rashford and Raheem Sterling have the pace to trouble lots of teams. I'm a great lover of pace in teams and they should hurt Slovenia.

"If your side has pace, you've always got a chance but you also need guile in behind.

"Then you look in midfield and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain will be very fortunate to play. In my day and age he wouldn't even be in the squad.

"That's the problem now, the squad virtually picks itself. There's not a huge amount of depth and it is harder to get out of the squad than it is to get in it.

"In goal, you cannot afford to leave Joe Hart out of the team. It's a big, big match and you don't experiment in big games. You have to go with experience and Joe's got plenty of it.

"Let's just get to the World Cup and then we have some friendlies coming up against big teams to experiment."


Merse's England XI to play Slovenia
Image: Merse's England XI to play Slovenia
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