Phil Foden will be handed his first start of the World Cup alongside Kyle Walker, Marcus Rashford and Jordan Henderson in a refreshed England line-up to face Wales.
Having stuck with the same starting XI in his first two games, Gareth Southgate is now expected to ring the changes on the back of England’s below-par draw with the USA on Friday, with qualification for the last 16 still not assured.
Foden’s absence during that stalemate was criticised by the media, but the Manchester City man will now get his chance from kick-off against Wales in Al-Rayyan.
Walker arrived at the World Cup still recovering from a groin injury which ruled him out of the final few weeks of Manchester City’s domestic season ahead of the tournament.
He was only deemed fit enough for a place on the bench in England’s first two games, and will play his first minutes since October 2 against Wales.
Henderson was introduced from the bench against the USA to replace Jude Bellingham and was initially expected to replace the Borussia Dortmund midfielder on Tuesday, but it now appears both players will start in a midfield three.
Rashford was another second-half arrival in that draw, having already come on to score in the opening win over Iran. His starting berth will mark a strong comeback for the Manchester United man, who had not made a single appearance for his country since the Euro 2020 final before the start of the tournament.
Those four are expected to be all of England’s changes, meaning captain Harry Kane will retain his place despite questions over his fitness and form against the USA. The reigning Golden Boot holder is yet to find the back of the net in Qatar.
Analysis: Bold move from Southgate and sign of intent
Sky Sports News’ Rob Dorsett in Qatar:
“It’s a bold move from Gareth Southgate – four changes, he doesn’t often make that many. It’s a positive reaction to what was a pretty lacklustre display against the USA, and a positive statement that England want to go and win this game.
“Gary Neville, among others, has been calling for Foden to start, calling him a generational talent and saying he doesn’t know why he’s been left out.
“Gareth Southgate said this week he has no problem with Foden and thinks he’s a fantastic player who he has predicted to have a big part to play in the tournament – something he’ll have the chance to do tonight.
“That will also apply to Marcus Rashford, who’s come off the bench in both of the opening two games and looked very sharp, the kind of form that has seen him score eight goals for Manchester United already this season.
“The way Southgate is looking at this is that Foden and Rashford are both fresh and will freshen out the attacking line-up England put out. They’re both pacy, Rashford in particular with his direct running, Foden with his nouse and ability to find space between the lines and pick a pass.
“Henderson brought some much-needed stability in midfield against the USA when he came on, he was quite organised in the way he brought things together and will now get a chance from the start, which we expected after he attended the pre-match press conference alongside Southgate yesterday.”
How England will qualify for the round of 16 on Tuesday
England are currently top of Group B with four points after the opening two rounds of matches but Iran, Wales and USA can all still qualify.
While Wales will need to beat England on Tuesday night to have any chance of progressing from the group, Gareth Southgate’s team will progress as group winners with victory. A draw will also be enough to top the group if USA vs Iran ends in a stalemate as well.
As long as England avoid a four-goal defeat or greater to Wales, they will be certain of reaching the last 16. But a defeat by Wales will leave Gareth Southgate’s side vulnerable to progressing as runners-up – and a potential last-16 tie against Netherlands.
How Wales, Iran and the USA can still qualify
A Wales win over England and an Iran-USA draw would see Wales progress – but a four-goal defeat or greater is the only scenario in which England do not progress. It’s also possible for England to lose to Wales and still finish top of the group.
Iran are certain to go through if they avoid defeat to the USA and Wales do not win, while the USA will have to beat Iran to reach the last 16.
Head-to-head record is the third tie-breaking method at this tournament, after goal difference and then goals scored.
As it stands: England’s potential opponents in the round of 16
If England were to win Group B, their round-of-16 tie would take place at Al Bayt Stadium, Al Khor, on Sunday December 4 and see them paired against the runners-up in Group A.
Were England to progress but fail to win the group, then the Group A winners would be England’s first opposition in the knockout phase, with that round-of-16 tie taking place at the Khalifa International Stadium, Al Rayyan on Saturday December 3.
Netherlands currently top Group A on four points and face already-eliminated hosts Qatar in their final group match. Ecuador are also on four points in second place and face Senegal, who have three points, in their final group game.
But would England be better off progressing as runners-up?
Were England to progress as group winners then they would most likely face world champions France in the quarter-finals on Saturday December 10, providing the 2018 World Cup winners topped their group and overcame Argentina, Saudi Arabia, Mexico or Poland in the last 16.
But as Group B runners-up and last-16 winners, England would continue their journey – assuming they were to beat the Group A victors a week earlier – on the other side of the draw and could be paired with Poland or Australia at the quarter-final stage on Friday December 9.
If England were to navigate their way to the semi-finals as group winners, the likely winners of Groups F and H – Belgium or Portugal – could stand between them and a place in the World Cup final on December 14.
England’s journey to the World Cup semi-finals after finishing second in the group stages would potentially set up a last-four tie against Spain or Brazil.
England’s potential route to the World Cup final as group winners (Last updated: Sunday November 27 based on current group tables)
Round of 16 – Sunday December 4
England vs Ecuador – Kick-off 7pm
Quarter-finals – Saturday December 10
England vs France or Argentina – Kick-off 7pm
Semi-finals – Wednesday December 14
England vs Croatia/Japan/Portugal/Switzerland
England’s potential route to the World Cup final as group runners-up (Last updated: Sunday November 27 based on current group tables)
Round of 16 – Saturday December 3
Netherlands vs England – Kick-off 3pm
Quarter-finals – Friday December 9
England vs Poland or Australia – Kick-off 7pm
Semi-finals – Tuesday December 13
England vs Spain/Morocco/Brazil/South Korea – Kick-off 7pm
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