England’s attempts to qualify for the 2018 World Cup in Russia continue with two games at the start of September

England, who have a two-point lead in Group F with four qualifying matches left, face Malta, bottom of the group, on 1 September and Slovakia at Wembley three days later.

England’s squad, minus the now retired record goal-scorer Wayne Rooney was announced as follows:

Jack Butland (Stoke City), Joe Hart (West Ham United, on loan from Manchester City), Tom Heaton (Burnley), Jordan Pickford (Everton).

Ryan Bertrand (Southampton), Gary Cahill (Chelsea), Aaron Cresswell (West Ham United), Phil Jones (Manchester United), Michael Keane (Everton), Harry Maguire (Leicester City), Chris Smalling (Manchester United), John Stones (Manchester City), Kieran Trippier (Tottenham Hotspur), Kyle Walker (Manchester City).

Dele Alli (Tottenham Hotspur), Nathaniel Chalobah (Watford), Eric Dier (Tottenham Hotspur), Jordan Henderson (Liverpool), Jesse Lingard (Manchester United), Jake Livermore (West Bromwich Albion), Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (Arsenal), Raheem Sterling (Manchester City).

Jermain Defoe (AFC Bournemouth), Harry Kane (Tottenham Hotspur), Marcus Rashford (Manchester United), Daniel Sturridge (Liverpool), Jamie Vardy (Leicester City), Danny Welbeck (Arsenal).

Malta v England Friday 1st September

Malta have lost all six World Cup Qualifiers in the group so far,scoring two goals and conceding fifteen
Striker Jean Paul Farrugia, who has been in excellent form for his new Swiss club FC Chiasso, is back in the frame for this match after suspension kept him out of the 2-0 defeat to Slovenia in Malta’s last qualifier, played in Ljubljana on June 10.

On the other hand, Alfred Effiong will have to miss the much-awaited encounter with England at the National Stadium as the Balzan forward must serve a one-match ban after collecting his second yellow card in the Slovenia qualifier.

There are five foreign-based players in the selection, namely Apollon Limassol forward Andrè Schembri, defender Zach Muscat, who is in the books of Italian club US Arezzo, Luke Gambin, the Luton Town winger, defender Sam Magri, now playing for Ebbsfleet United, and FC Chiasso’s Farrugia.

Obviously England should win this match and are 1/20 outright in betting markets to do so. In the handicap markets England -3 is available at 6/4 with Paddy Power

When the team is selected later in the week there may be mileage in the each way first goal-scorers market with Bet3645 with the likes of Kane, Alli and Sterling

England v Slovakia Monday 4th September

Slovakia are second in the group two points behind England with four wins and two losses and they have scored 12 goals in those six games. England beat them 1-0 a year ago in their first qualifying game of the group with a 95th-minute winner playing the last 33 minutes against 10 men following a red card for Slovakia captain Martin Skrtel.

Slovakia had a decent tournament in Euro2016 in France until they were knocked out by Germany in the round of 16. They were grouped together with England and managed to earn a goal-less draw. Markek Hamsik remains the key player to watch out for, while the likes of Miroslav Stoch and Robert Mak has plenty of pace and skill the English defense.

This is likely to be another close match, a draw is an option but a narrow England win looks the most likely result.