Walcott looks set to win back England place for Slovenia tie
Theo Walcott, Fabian Delph and Nathaniel Clyne are contending strongly to win back their places in Roy Hodgson's team against Slovenia tomorrow when England will attempt to complete a full season unbeaten.
It was exactly a year ago tomorrow that England began what amounted to a six-day World Cup campaign with defeat by Italy in Brazil and, while Hodgson's team will ultimately be defined by their results next summer, they are adamant there has been progress.
"We have made strides," said Gary Cahill, who played in all five of the qualifying wins for Euro 2016. "Whoever has been put in front of us we have managed to beat and we've got loads of clean sheets. At the World Cup it was a young squad. Now it is more experienced and the younger lads have played a lot in the Premier League this season. We have started to build something."
One positive from last year's World Cup was Raheem Sterling but his progress has stalled and, after he was substituted against Ireland, Walcott is expected to take his place tomorrow.
Walcott ended the season with four goals in two games for Arsenal and his return would give Hodgson the option of employing the diamond formation he used to such success in England's other tough away tie in Switzerland.
That would mean retaining Jack Wilshere in his holding position with Delph and Jordan Henderson either side of him, as in Switzerland. Delph did not start in the goalless draw in Dublin but impressed in training. That would leave a choice between Adam Lallana and James Milner playing a more offensive role either behind or to the left of Wayne Rooney.
There is also a question over which full-backs Hodgson selects. He picked Phil Jones at right-back last week but Clyne is pushing strongly for that place while Kieran Gibbs could also come in for Ryan Bertrand at left-back. Cahill will again start at centre-back, alongside Chris Smalling or Phil Jagielka. (© Daily Telegraph, London)
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