England travel to San Marino in a top-versus-bottom clash in Group E which, if the Three Lions were to win, would bring them to the brink of Euro 2016 qualification.

Roy Hodgson’s men need a victory and for Slovenia to fail to beat Switzerland to secure an automatic qualification position in Group E this weekend.

England eventually beat Slovenia 3-2 in their last Euro 2016 qualification match, and it was Wayne Rooney’s late winner which maintained the Three Lions’ 100% record in the group.

18th November 2014 - International Friendly Football - Scotland v England - Wayne Rooney of England - Photo: Simon Stacpoole / Offside.

The Manchester United and England skipper will be the focal point of the match in San Marino, as he requires just two goals to become the country’s all-time top goalscorer.

San Marino’s chances of qualification are virtually over going into this match, and their defence will be severely tested by England’s forwards.

Pierangelo Manzaroli’s men have conceded 19 goals in qualification so far, yet they have at times provided some resistance, most notably in a creditable 0-0 draw against Estonia last November.

However, the visitors will be expected to stroll this match with the hosts having only ever won one match – 1-0 against Liechtenstein 11 years ago.

With injury ruling out the dependable Jordan Henderson, and the Arsenal pair of Jack Wilshere and Danny Welbeck, Roy Hodgson has picked some inexperienced players as part of his squad.

He’s already confirmed that Jonjo Shelvey, who coincidentally won his only cap against San Marino in 2012, Jamie Vardy and John Stones will all start for his side.

21st March 2015 - Barclays Premier League - Aston Villa v Swansea City - Jonjo Shelvey of Swansea City - Photo: Paul Roberts / Offside.

San Marino have no reported injuries, yet also have uncapped players to select. Goalkeeper Giacomo Murracini and forward Marco Berardi are untested at international level.

If anyone is likely to spring a surprise for the hosts, it is 39-year old forward Andy Selva. The La Fiorita striker is San Marino’s record scorer with eight goals and their most-capped player.

England have never been beaten by their opponents and the teams have met five times in all. The Three Lions have scored at least five goals in every fixture and have only ever conceded once. That solitary San Marino goal was scored by David Gualtieri in 1993 and, coming just 8.3 seconds into the match, remains the fastest goal scored in a World Cup qualifier.

In the reverse fixture at Wembley last October, Roy Hodgson’s men recorded a comfortable 5-0 victory with Phil Jagielka, Andros Townsend and Wayne Rooney amongst the goals.

With the all-time goalscoring record within his grasp, expect Rooney to feature in the goals again as the Three Lions aim to move three points closer, or even cement their place in France next summer.

Group Position: San Marino: 6th (1 point); England: 1st (18 points)
Last Meeting: England 5-0 San Marino, October  9, 2014
Key Men: San Marino, Andy Selva; England, Wayne Rooney
Form: San Marino, LLDLLL; England WWWWW
Shoot Says: San Marino 0-5 England

Author: james

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