In Brief

Euro 2020 qualifying: Montenegro vs. England team news, possible starting XIs, TV channel

Three Lions boss Gareth Southgate expects a hostile evening in Podgorica

Montenegro vs. England
  • What: Euro 2020 qualifying group A 
  • When: Monday 25 March 
  • Where: Podgorica City Stadium, Montenegro
  • Kick-off: 7.45pm (UK time) 
  • TV channel and live stream: ITV and ITV Hub

Gareth Southgate has warned his England players to expect a hostile reception this evening in Montenegro.

Having thrashed the Czech Republic 5-0 on Friday in their Euro 2020 group A opener, the Three Lions travel to Podgorica to face a Montenegro side that drew 1-1 with Bulgaria in their first qualification game.

England are familiar with tonight’s opponents, who are ranked 46th in the world (England are fifth), having met Montenegro in qualification for the 2012 Euros and the 2014 World Cup.

In three of those four home and away matches, England drew three and won just once, a 4-1 victory at Wembley in 2013. But it’s a mark of the Montenegrins’ durability that they haven’t lost a match by more than two goals since 2015.

Keep calm and carry on

One reason is the atmosphere generated by their home fans, and England have been on the receiving end of their fair share of abuse in Podgorica.

In 2013 goalkeeper Joe Hart was hit by a missile from the crowd and Ashley Cole was spat at by fans. In the audience on that occasion was Southgate, then the England under-21 coach, and he explained that he has been schooling his squad in what to expect this evening, as has defender Kyle Walker.

“Walker is the only player to have played in the fixture so he spoke in the team meeting about the experience to help the players prepare,” said England manager Southgate.

“It’s expected of this group now that they have to respond in the right way, stay calm. A lot of times, going down to ten men affects the result. We have to make sure we don’t allow them that. It’s really intense, a passionate local support.” 

Missile attack

Asked if any instructions have been issued to players in the event they come under missile attack, Southgate said: “We’ve spoken about not going over to deal with those on your own. It’s the referee’s responsibility to deal with anything thrown on the field. We have to alert him to it. There is a danger in picking those things up to remove them yourself.”

Shake up the squad

Southgate won’t name his starting line-up until he has checked on the fitness of Jordan Henderson, Jadon Sancho and Dele Alli, with the latter struggling with a hamstring problem.

That could lead to a first start for Declan Rice, who appeared as a sub in the 5-0 win against the Czechs on Friday.

“I think I will make some changes,” said Southgate. “The difference in some positions is so close in terms of who you’d pick, a fresher player may bring us more. I don’t want to make heaps of changes so I want the right balance.

“There will be a couple of checks on Dele, who has missed a lot of football with a hamstring [injury], Henderson with the [ankle] injury he arrived with and Jadon Sancho was a bit tight after the [Czech] game. It’s nothing of a huge concern but we want to make sure we are right.”

After his substitute performance against the Czechs on Friday, Sky Sports reports that Hudson-Odoi is set to make his full England debut tonight against Montenegro. The London Evening Standard adds that West Ham star Rice is also expected to make his full debut.  

Predicted starting XIs

How the teams could line up at the Podgorica City Stadium, according to the London Evening Standard

  • Montenegro possible starting XI (4-2-3-1): Petkovic, Marusic, Simic, Savic, Tomasevic, Ivanic, Vukcevic, Jankovic, Mugosa, Vesovic, Beciraj
  • England possible starting XI (4-3-3): Pickford, Trippier, Keane, Maguire, Rose, Henderson, Rice, Barkley, Hudson-Odoi, Kane, Sterling
England squad
  • Goalkeepers: Tom Heaton, Jack Butland, Jordan Pickford 
  • Defenders: Ben Chilwell, Michael Keane, Harry Maguire, Danny Rose, Kieran Trippier, Kyle Walker, James Tarkowski 
  • Midfielders: Ross Barkley, Dele Alli, Jordan Henderson, Declan Rice, James Ward-Prowse 
  • Forwards: Harry Kane, Jadon Sancho, Raheem Sterling, Callum Wilson, Callum Hudson-Odoi

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