Gareth Southgate has refused to rule out moving England to a three-man defence for today’s World Cup group decider against Wales.
The Three Lions are all but assured of a place in the last 16, but Southgate is unlikely to make sweeping changes to his starting XI.
Instead, Kyle Walker’s return to fitness could herald a return to the 5-2-3 system England often favor at major tournaments. Alternatively, he could replace Luke Shaw and move Kieran Trippier to left-back.
There have been calls to rest Harry Kane and bring Phil Foden into the squad, but Southgate is unlikely to drop his captain but could make a move for the latter. Bukayo Saka and Raheem Sterling are vulnerable to being dropped, leaving Mason Mount in the starting XI.
Jordan Henderson is expected to start after impressing off the bench against the USA, giving Jude Bellingham a rest after his impressive start to the tournament as he lines up alongside Declan Rice.
“We want to win football games and we want to try to top the group if we can,” Southgate told reporters on the subject of his selection.
“So we have to make sure there is some consistency in what we do and our performances are healthy. There is always a balance in finding playing time for players. But the priority is to win games, we have to win football games.”
Joe Allen is likely to start for Wales if he is fit after a hamstring injury. He came on as a substitute in the last defeat against Iran.
Wayne Hennessey is suspended after his red card in that match, meaning Danny Ward will start in goal.
Brennan Johnson and Daniel James will both be knocking on the door to start with only a win good enough to keep Wales in the World Cup, with Kieffer Moore expected to lead the line along with Gareth Bale.
Predicted Wales XI (3-5-2):
Ward; Mepham, Rodon, Davies; Roberts, Ramsey, Ampadu, Allen, N Williams; Bale, Moore.
Prediected England XI (3-4-3):
Pickford; Walker, Stones, Maguire; Trippier, Henderson, Rice, Shaw; Foden, Rashford, Kane.