England manager Gareth Southgate has just overseen his nation’s first defeat in a major qualifying match in a decade, a dismal performance during a 2-1 defeat away at to the Czech Republic.
As his honeymoon period in charge of the national team fades miserably into the distance he will be hoping, and indeed needing, to engineer an immediate response away in Bulgaria if his team is stay comfortable at the top of their qualification group.
Here’s a look at the England startling XI that Southgate should field in Sofia.
Goalkeeper and Defenders
Jordan Pickford (GK) – The Everton goalie did little wrong during England’s shock defeat in Prague. In fact he came out of the match with two smart saves to his name, and there should be no question that he starts against Bulgaria.
Trent Alexander-Arnold (RB) – It was a strange call to leave the Liverpool youngster on the bench against the Czech Republic. On a night when they needed a creative spark from somewhere, Southgate opted to omit the youngster who has two assists and a goal already to his name this season. This must surely be corrected for Bulgaria and beyond.
Harry Maguire (CB) – It was not the Manchester United man’s finest hour (and a half) on Friday night and he didn’t seem to gel at all with a nervy Micheal Keane. He should start by virtue of him offering an aerial threat and overall quality, although he must start showing more leadership in the near future.
Joe Gomez (CB) – The Liverpool youngster is a solid, no nonsense defender on his day. He should offer more composure and reading of the game, which was evidently lacking after Zdenek Odrasek was allowed to virtually walk into a goal-scoring position in between England’s two hapless centre-halves.
Ben Chilwell (LB) – The young left back has been excellent for Leicester City in recent weeks and should be a shoo-in for a start following Danny Rose’s below par showing in Prague.
Ross Barkley (CM) – England need experienced heads who can keep the ball and know when to try and break the lines; the old fear and nerves were all to evident at the
Raheem Sterling (FW) – Sterling has eight goals in his last 19 England caps and is a constant threat with his driving runs from out wide. He should get some joy against a less disciplined and slower Bulgarian back line.
Harry Kane (FW) – The Spurs forward has really improved in his link up play for England recently and looks like he will profit handsomely from the mobility and speed of his strike partners in the front three. He should surely remain in the goals against Bulgaria.
Jadon Sancho (FW) – Despite enduring an off night in Prague, Sancho remains one of England’s most naturally gifted players. His pace, dynamism and clever feet should, in the right system, be more than enough to see of the challenge posed by Bulgaria.