England host Germany in a Nations League dead rubber at Wembley on Monday (England 29/20, draw 12/5, Germany 2/1) with boss Gareth Southgate opting to drop Liverpool defender Trent Alexander-Arnold from his squad.
After a run of five games without a win – England’s longest spell without a victory since 2014 – Southgate has decided to axe Liverpool full-back Alexander-Arnold from his matchday squad and the 23-year-old must now fear for his place in the final World Cup squad.
West Ham star Jarrod Bowen, AC Milan defender Fikayo Tomori and Southampton midfielder James Ward-Prowse have also been left out of the squad but Brentford striker Ivan Toney has been included and will hope to make his England debut, while Jack Grealish is suspended.
The Three Lions were relegated from the top tier of the competition when they were beaten 1-0 by Italy in Milan on Friday, so Monday’s clash with Germany will serve as preparation for the World Cup in Qatar this winter.
Germany will finish third in Nations League Group A3 regardless of how the Wembley showdown goes with Italy and Hungary battling it out in the other game in the group to see who will finish top and progress to next summer’s finals.
Southgate is coming under increasing pressure following a poor spell of results and uninspiring performances. England have failed to kick on following last summer’s European Championship final defeat on penalties to Italy and have lost to Hungary twice in the Nations League amid draws with Germany away and Italy at home, before the defeat against the Azzurri last time out at the San Siro.
The England boss knows results must improve with the World Cup around the corner (England 7/1 – World Cup outright) but he says he’s up for the challenge of leading his side through what has been a very difficult period.
He said: “History is history. You’re judged on the next match and you’re judged on the next tournament. I’m not the first coach to go through a difficult time in terms of results and criticism.
“That is part of the territory. For me, it’s a great challenge to lead the team through a moment like this.
“You are not going to have six years as we’ve had without a spell where you are going to have some tough results, and you’ve got to show resilience to come through those moments.”
Germany (10/1 – World Cup outright) have also under-performed and their chances of making next summer’s Nations League finals were ended when they lost 1-0 at home to Hungary on Friday.