London: England face the world’s worst national team in Fifa’s rankings - San Marino - tonight in Group I in a match they just need a point from to qualify for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.
England coach Gareth Southgate says they will be taking the match “very seriously” against San Marino who are 210th - bottom - in the world rankings and have lost all nine group games in qualifying, conceding 36 times and scoring just once.
“We want a strong performance,” said Southgate. “We have not qualified yet. We have got thousands of England fans travelling and we must put on a performance that underlines those facts. We’re taking this very seriously.”
Crystal Palace midfielder Conor Gallagher has been rewarded for his Premier League performances this season with a maiden England call-up.
Gallagher, on loan from Chelsea, has been Palace’s standout performer this season with four goals and two assists to help the London club climb to 10th in the standings.
“I’m really happy and excited to be called up to the senior squad. I’m determined to make the most of the experience and know I have a lot of hard work to do,” said 21-year-old Gallagher, who has 36 caps with England’s youth teams.
“I’d like to thank everyone that has helped me in my career so far and I’ll do my best to make them proud.”
England said Jordan Henderson and Jack Grealish have returned to their respective clubs for assessment on their injuries while Raheem Sterling will not travel to San Marino due to a personal matter.
Mason Mount and Luke Shaw, who were both called up, will not be travelling either as they recover from a dental surgery and concussion, respectively.