A win would almost guarantee England a place in Qatar 2022. Albania look to edge past Poland and into second position.
With World Cup 2022 qualification yet to be secured, England begin their November fixtures by welcoming Albania to Wembley on Friday.
Gareth Southgate’s outfit currently hold a three-point lead atop of Group I, while the visitors are still in with a chance of a top-two finish, as they occupy third place.
Not since a 1-0 defeat to Germany in October 2000 have England suffered a home defeat in World Cup Qualifying. That match also represents the last time they failed to score at home at this stage. However, these opponents are not to be underestimated.
Edoardo Reja’s Albania continue to defy expectation in Group I and still have an outside chance of booking their plane tickets to next year’s tournament.
England have seen Declan Rice, Marcus Rashford and James Ward-Prowse withdraw from the squad in recent days, while Mason Mount (dental) and Luke Shaw (concussion) will not recover in time for this game either.
Rashford’s withdrawal has seen Emile Smith-Rowe given a deserved first call-up to the national team, but Southgate should select his best XI this week, before some rotation is expected in San Marino.
The return of Kalvin Phillips will allow Southgate to partner the Leeds United man with Jordan Henderson. Phil Foden should also earn a start in midfield.
Meanwhile, Albania will be bolstered by the return of midfielder Endri Çekiçi from suspension. However, the 24-year-old will have a hard time forcing his way back into the centre of midfield.
Atalanta BC defender Berat Djimsiti picked up a forearm fracture on international duty last month and is not available for the visitors here, but Armando Broja has returned to fitness.
The Chelsea man has come up with some vital strikes as a substitute for Albania in World Cup Qualifying, but Reja has so far been reluctant to give him a start. However, the 20-year-old could feature from the first whistle here, as Inter Milan striker Rey Manaj is not in the squad.
England are under pressure to respond after their poor showing against Hungary and Southgate’s side should take a giant leap towards qualification with all three points here. Our prediction is 2-0 to the Three Lions!