England v Slovakia preview: Sterling and Kane to start?

Date published: Sunday 19th June 2016 2:26

Roy Hodgson: Must decide whether to retain Kane and Sterling

Roy Hodgson: Must decide whether to retain Kane and Sterling

Check out the team news, talking points and previous meetings as England prepare to face Slovakia in their final Euro 2016 Group B clash.


England have no serious concerns ahead of the final Euro 2016 group match against Slovakia.

All 23 players trained on Sunday ahead of the trip to St Etienne, although third-choice goalkeeper Tom Heaton did not do ball work due to a mildly-sprained finger.

The Burnley shot-stopper sustained the knock during training on Saturday evening, but nothing is broken so he is expected to be available on Monday.

England only need a draw against Slovakia at the Stade Geoffroy Guichard to secure automatic qualification to the knockout stages.

England Euro 2016


Will Roy rotate?

England’s second-half performance against Wales was by some distance their best so far, with genuine goal threat to go with territorial advantage.

Goalscorers Jamie Vardy and Daniel Sturridge appeared to make irrefutable claims for recalls to the starting XI after coming off the bench but Roy Hodgson can be stubborn in his selections.

He also placed a high value on Harry Kane in his pre-tournament planning and could be loathe to cut the Premier League’s top-scorer loose.

Bringing both Vardy and Sturridge into the XI may dictate a change in system too, meaning he has plenty to ponder as he looks for the perfect formula.


Can England keep a clean sheet?

There were already question marks over England’s back line ahead of the tournament and they have conceded in both of their group games so far.

Russia’s equaliser was an unusual one and Gareth Bale’s 35-yard strike a probable one-off but as a unit they badly need to complete a shutout against Slovakia.

Joe Hart, who was partially to blame for Bale’s goal, would particularly cherish a blank.


Raheem Sterling England

Plummeting value of Sterling

England’s most expensive footballer, Raheem Sterling, has had a forgettable start to the competition. In both matches he has started brightly only for his lack of final product – be it crossing or finishing – to chip away at his confidence.

Three Lions fans had started to jeer the self-styled ‘Hated One’ before his half-time withdrawal in Lens and his morale must now be a major concern for Hodgson.


First is everything

Although all second placed teams, and four third-placed sides, will reach the last 16 there is a good reason for England to go all out for top spot.

Not only would it keep morale high and make a statement to others, it would pit England against one of those who finished third.

They would also guarantee their first knockout match in Paris, the shortest and easiest possible journey from their Chantilly base.


Marek Hamsik Slovakia

Hamsik in the shop window

Napoli fans may take exception, but Slovakia boss Jan Kozak suggested after Marek Hamsik’s starring role against Russia that the skilful midfielder “deserves a bigger club”.

The Premier League, and with all the money and status it attracts, would be home to some desirable suitors so who better for Hamsik to turn on the style against than England?

Expect him to be busting a gut to impress.




Slovakia 1 England 2 (Bratislava, European Championship qualifier, October 12 2002)

Michael Owen’s second-half double in soggy Bratislava rescued England from embarrassment in the countries’ first ever meeting. On a surface drenched by days of rain, the visitors looked to be heading for a defeat when Middlesbrough striker Szilard Nemeth pounced to net a deserved first-half opener for the home side. But boss Sven-Goran Eriksson had his professional blushes spared by Owen as he got the faintest of touches to a David Beckham free-kick, before nodding home the winner eight minutes from time.

Michael Owen Slovakia v England


England 2 Slovakia 1 (Middlesbrough, European Championship qualifier, June 11 2003)

Owen celebrated his 50th cap with two priceless goals, salvaging victory in the Euro 2004 qualifier at the Riverside Stadium. England trailed at half-time to a goal from Vladimir Janocko after an error by David James, who was beaten by a curling 40-yard free-kick. But it was one-way traffic towards the Slovakian goal in the second half and an Owen penalty and a header took his goal tally for his country to 22 after he had spurned a trio of first-half chances.

Michael Owen England


England 4 Slovakia 0 (London, friendly, March 28 2009)

Beckham broke Bobby Moore’s outfield appearance record for England with his 109th cap in the comfortable friendly at Wembley. Emile Heskey had given Fabio Capello’s side an early lead, only to then go off injured, followed by his replacement Carlton Cole. Manchester United striker Wayne Rooney headed in a cross from Beckham, who came on after half-time, to make it 2-0 on 70 minutes – with Frank Lampard adding a third and Rooney a fourth in stoppage time.

David Beckham England

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