England travel to Poland on Wednesday to face their nearest challengers in World Cup qualifying and victory would put Qatar firmly in sight.
England sit top of Group I at the halfway stage, having maintained their 100 per cent record with an impressive 4-0 win in Hungary, before seeing off Andorra by the same scoreline at Wembley in what ultimately proved a comfortable victory.
A trip to Warsaw would appear the last big hurdle and manager Gareth Southgate has acknowledged that a sixth straight win of the campaign would likely see his side secure serene progress to next year's finals.
"Clearly with the result that Hungary have ended up with (losing 1-0 to Albania), Poland look like being the nearest challengers, which we probably thought when this group was drawn," Southgate said ahead of the game.
"It's a great incentive for us now. If we can go to Warsaw and win then we really are in control of the group."
Speaking at his official pre-match news conference, the England manager reiterated that his side was in "a good moment" but while emphasising his squad's motivation, also warned against complacency.
"We have a squad of players, any of whom are more than comfortable to play and are playing well," he said.
"But also those moments are dangerous because, if we get any sense of complacency, we are going into a game that will be a challenge.
"It is a high level of motivation but also guarding against a feeling we are better than we are. We are getting a good set of results because we are working hard for each other.
"The challenge of Poland will be different. We can't drift on the night."
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World Cup Qualifying - Group I
Southgate's side are currently five points clear at the top of the table.
Victory on Wednesday would extend England's advantage over Poland to eight points and - assuming Albania were to win at home to San Marino - mean a six-point lead at the top.
With four games to go, England could assure their place at the World Cup with wins away to Andorra and at home to Hungary next month if Poland take points off Albania.
'More to Poland than Lewandowski'
England defender Harry Maguire secured a late 2-1 win against Poland in March, when the visitors were without star striker Robert Lewandowski through injury.
Lewandowski scored twice in Poland's 7-1 thrashing of San Marino last time out but his second-half replacement, Adam Buksa, went on to net a hat-trick.
"When we're preparing the team to play against Poland, we're not just looking at Lewandowski," Southgate said.
"We absolutely respect what he brings and we know what a threat he is, but they've got some other very dangerous players as well."
Southgate believes ball retention is likely to be key.
"We know keeping possession of the ball can be a big factor in managing those situations," he added.
"But the flow of the game will be different and we are playing a level of opponent who I think is in a better moment [than previous opposition].
"They have won their last two games and have better footballers in the team who will keep the ball a little bit better than Hungary were able to against us."
Team news: Will Southgate recall all big guns?
Southgate fully rotated his England XI for Sunday's fixture against Andorra, with Patrick Bamford handed a debut up front, Sam Johnstone getting the nod in goal, and Trent Alexander-Arnold playing in midfield, before reverting to full-back, where Southgate admitted he "looked happier".
But he insisted it was not a straightforward decision to revert back to the side which won so convincingly in Hungary, saying: "There is still huge competition for places in this group."
The likes of Harry Kane, Raheem Sterling and Jack Grealish should still return but Jadon Sancho left the camp before the Andorra game after picking up a knock and Tyrone Mings is suspended and so will not travel.
Kane seeking net gains
Harry Kane's late penalty against Andorra was his 40th England goal, drawing him level with Michael Owen in the all-time leading goalscorer charts for the Three Lions. A goal against Poland would move Kane into outright fifth place, with Jimmy Greaves (44) next ahead of him.
Poland boss Paulo Sousa is also expected to field a more familiar line-up after giving fringe players a chance against San Marino.
Jan Bednarek, Kamil Glik, Grzegorz Krychowiak and Derby's Kamil Jozwiak are among those likely to be restored to Sousa's XI.
- England have only lost one of their 20 matches against Poland in all competitions (W12 D7), losing 2-0 in Chorzów in a 1974 World Cup qualifier under Sir Alf Ramsey. They are unbeaten in 17 games against the Poles since (W11 D6).
- Five of the last seven meetings between Poland and England on Polish soil have ended as draws, with this the first meeting since October 2012 in a World Cup qualifier - after the Three Lions took the lead through Wayne Rooney, Poland equalised with a goal from Kamil Glik.
- England have won seven of their last eight World Cup qualifying matches against Poland (D1), including beating the Poles 2-1 earlier this year at Wembley. Current manager Gareth Southgate played in two of those seven victories, featuring in both home and away wins over Poland in World Cup 1998 qualifying.
- England have kept 11 clean sheets in their 14 games in 2021, their joint-most in a single calendar year alongside 1966.
- England are unbeaten in their last 15 matches in all competitions (W13 D2), since losing 2-0 vs Belgium in the UEFA Nations League in November 2020. Indeed, England have conceded just three goals in this run, while registering 12 clean sheets in the process.
- Poland have won consecutive matches in all competitions for the first time since November 2020, while they last won three in a row in November 2019 (run of four).
- Jesse Lingard has had more shots in World Cup 2022 qualification than any other England player (15), while only Harry Kane (5) has been directly involved in more goals than the Man Utd midfielder (4 - 2 goals, 2 assists).
- Harry Kane has scored 40 goals in just 63 caps for England, only four players have scored more for the Three Lions: Wayne Rooney (53), Bobby Charlton (49), Gary Lineker (48) and Jimmy Greaves (44). In fact, Kane has scored in each of his last 14 qualifying matches for the EUROs/World Cup, netting 18 goals in total in this run.
September 8: Poland vs England - kick-off 7.45pm
October 9: Andorra vs England - kick-off 7.45pm
October 12: England vs Hungary - kick-off 7.45pm
November 12: England vs Albania - kick-off 7.45pm
November 15: San Marino vs England - kick-off 7.45pm
Thirteen European nations will compete at the Qatar World Cup, which will be played in November and December of 2022 to avoid the punishing summer heat in the Middle East.
The winners of the 10 groups will qualify automatically for the finals.
A further three places will be fought out between the 10 group runners-up and the two highest-ranked teams from the Nations League who have not already qualified or finished in a runners-up spot.
These 12 teams will be divided into three play-off paths, each featuring four countries, to determine the final three European berths. The format will consist of two knockout rounds in March 2022, from which the three additional teams qualify.
The draw for the 2022 World Cup finals takes place in April 2022.