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England fans stunned by Gareth Southgate's expected starting XI for Malta clash

England fans stunned by Gareth Southgate's expected starting XI for Malta clash

England face Malta in a Euro 2024 qualifier on Friday.

Marc Guehi is expected to start alongside Harry Maguire at centre-back for England in their Euro 2024 qualifier against Malta, with Gareth Southgate set to name an unusual starting XI.

England take on the Maltese at the Ta' Qali National Stadium on Friday before hosting North Macedonia at Old Trafford on Monday.

The Three Lions are currently top of qualification Group C on six points having beaten Italy and Ukraine in their opening two qualifiers.

According to the Daily Mail, Guehi will partner Maguire in central defence against Malta, with the Crystal Palace defender in line to earn only his second competitive international start.

But it is the decision to play Maguire that has raised eyebrows among England supporters.

Maguire has been short on first-team football after losing his starting his place at United last season and fans have questioned why he is starting against Malta, with Levi Colwill, Tyrone Mings and John Stones also in the squad.

"How Maguire constantly gets picked does my head in," posted one fan on Twitter.

Another added: "Worst CB partnership Gareth Southgate could pick and he actually did lool what are the odds? Stones Colwill White all better than them 2."

While a third wrote: "Maguire… guy could play for a sunday league team and still get picked."

Liverpool defender Trent Alexander-Arnold is also expected to start but could play in midfield after impressing as an inverted full-back for the Reds in the final weeks of the Premier League season.

"You know that I think he is more than capable of playing there and it can be really exciting," said Southgate at his pre-match press conference on Thursday.

"If we were to do that, we would not be expecting perfection because there is a lot to learn, particularly without the ball. It is different areas of the pitch.

"With the ball, that is a more straightforward transition for him now. He has been playing there a little bit more for his club so it is something for us to consider, definitely."

England captain Harry Kane is expected to start up front, with Bukayo Saka and James Maddison set to play alongside the Tottenham striker in attack.

The Daily Mail expect Jordan Henderson and Declan Rice to start alongside Alexander-Arnold in midfield, with Kieran Trippier and Luke Shaw flanking Guehi and Maguire in defence.

England's expected starting XI vs Malta: Pickford; Trippier, Guehi, Maguire, Shaw; Rice, Henderson, Alexander-Arnold; Saka, Kane, Maddison.

Featured Image Credit: Alamy

Topics: England, Harry Maguire, Football, Fan Reactions, Trent Alexander-Arnold, Gareth Southgate