Gareth Southgate picks 26-man England squad for World Cup qualifiers against San Marino, Albania and Poland reports Max Liu...
"It would be a major shock if the Three Lions' didn't start with a win when they host San Marino (25 March) in Group I next Thursday. After that they go to Albania (28 March) then return to Wembley for what should be a tougher test against Poland (31 March)."
Aston Villa striker Ollie Watkins was called up to the England senior squad for the first time as Gareth Southgate named his selections for the triple-header of World Cup qualifiers that starts next week.
England are 6.411/2 favourites to win this summer's rescheduled Euro 2020 but must first turn their attention to getting off to a winning start in their qualifying campaign for next year's World Cup in Qatar.
England expected to win qualifying group
It would be a major shock if the Three Lions' didn't take three points when they host San Marino (25 March) in Group I next Thursday.
Next they go to Albania (28 March) then return to Wembley for what should be a tougher test against Poland (31 March).
England will be firm favourites to win a group that also includes Hungary and Andorra.
Southgate picked a 26-man squad in which West Brom goalkeeper Sam Johnstone was the other player to get his first senior call-up. Jordan Pickford is out injured so Johnstone will compete with Dean Henderson and Nick Pope for the number one shirt.
Trent Alexander-Arnold has been dropped by Southgate who said the Liverpool full-back had failed to play at the level of Reece James and Kieran Trippier.
Borussia Dortmund midfielder Jude Bellingham is in the squad, even though his club are reluctant to release him because those returning to Germany from the UK must isolate for 14 days. The FA are hoping that the situation could yet change, although Southgate has said he does not expect Bellingham to come if it does not.
Dortmund would almost certainly not allow the 17-year-old, who has been in superb form this season, to travel and quarantine as that would rule him out of their Champions League quarter-final first leg against whoever they land in tomorrow's draw.
As for players making their return to the squad, Luke Shaw, John Stones and Jesse Lingard are all back after impressing for their clubs recently. Southgate has insisted he will pick players on form rather than reputation and, with this squad, he's kept his word.
England are 10.09/1 to win the World Cup, which will take place in the autumn of next year, with Brazil 7.06/1 favourites ahead of holders France 7.06/1.
You can bet on who will make Southgate's Euro 2020 squad on the Exchange.