England begin their Euro 2020 qualifying campaign on Friday when they host Group A rivals the Czech Republic at Wembley.
The Three Lions kicked on from last year’s World Cup semi-final appearance by beating Spain and Croatia to qualifying for this summer’s Nations League Finals in Portugal and so Gareth Southgate will be aiming to use this match, and Monday’s fixture against Montenegro, to build some momentum towards June.
Southgate has had to deal with a host of withdrawals from the squad, the latest being Manchester United’s Marcus Rashford, but that at least has saved him a selection dilemma, with Harry Kane now expected to start up front.
The Tottenham man has been troubled by an ankle injury in recent months but scored England’s last goal, the winner in November’s 2-1 win over Croatia, and is 5/2 to break the deadlock.
England have a fine record at Wembley, winning 15 of their last 16 competitive home games and have also been defensively sound, with seven of their last 10 home wins accompanied by a clean sheet.
Understandably they are the 3/10 favourites to win the game, with a draw 4/1, but the 12/1 Czechs will undoubtedly put up some resistance.
While they may not have the stars of yesteryear, Jaroslav Silhavy’s side have made some encouraging strides in recent times and are particularly potent on the road.
A record of five wins from their last 10 away games shows they can be dangerous and their charge is likely to be led by Roma’s Patrick Schick.
Although he is not a regular for the Giallorossi, the 23-year-old has scored five times in his 14 caps and netted the winner in his country’s last two competitive victories.
Schick is 17/2 as an Anytime Goalscorer and someone of his striking prowess could add to a recent run of England games that has seen goals scored beyond in the 80th minute in three of their last five.
A goal after 75 minutes is 23/20 and despite there being under 1.5 goals in three of the Czech Republic’s last four, the excitement surrounding England means it promises to be an entertaining game under the Wembley Arch.