Published: Sun, October 08, 2017
Sports | By Brett Lawson

Germany, England seal World Cup qualification; Poland close

Germany, England seal World Cup qualification; Poland close

Thursday's win against Slovenia ensured qualification for the finals in Russian Federation with a match to spare, yet the manner of the 1-0 defeat of Slovenia underlined concerns about the Three Lions.

They now turn their attention to an away trip to Lithuania tomorrow, however the pressure is now off having wrapped up qualification.

Hart has been England's first-choice goalkeeper under Gareth Southgate, but with England now qualified for the World Cup, Butland has been handed the shirt for the last match of the campaign.

But which players does Sky Sports pundit Paul Merson believe should be on the plane to Russian Federation?

'Going into the tournament, we want everyone to have the kind of confidence he's showing at the minute.

"Tonight highlighted where we are", said Southgate.

The Brazilian Football Confederation confirmed they will face England and also play another friendly against Japan in Lille on November 10.

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England have comfortably coasted through qualifying winning seven of nine. I'd like to see England play three at the back throughout the tournament, so "traditional" full-backs aren't needed. "That was why it was imperative we got there".

After another scare early in the second period, Hart nearly fumbling a header from Bojan Jokic, England belatedly manufactured some thrust in the game's last third.

The in-form Kane had been quiet throughout a listless Three Lions performance but nudged home Kyle Walker's low cross to break the deadlock in the third minute of added time at the end of the second half.

They have a clutch of talented young players - John Stones, 23, Dele Alli, 21, Raheem Sterling, 22, Kane, 24, Marcus Rashford, 19 - but nothing this team have done in recent years has indicated that they are ready to take Russian Federation by storm.

"It isn't down to just me, it's down to the whole team", said Kane, who in September scored 13 goals in all competitions for Spurs and England.

"We should enjoy it, it's no easy thing getting to a World Cup. We have some great strengths, and if we couple those with some other traits we could be more powerful than anybody - but we have a lot of work to get to that point". There are some big countries around the world that are struggling. "If you can't play against Slovenia at home, you can't play on the world stage".

Slovenia had chances themselves and could even have won the game had Joe Hart not made a fearless double save late on.

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