Rooney on bench for England in Slovenia

Wayne Rooney

Rooney has won 117 caps for England

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Wayne Rooney is set to be dropped to the bench for Tuesday’s 2018 World Cup qualifier in Slovenia.

The 30-year-old forward, who has been a substitute for Manchester United in their last three games, started in Saturday’s 2-0 win over Malta.

Rooney is England’s record goalscorer with 53 goals but has scored once in 12 games for club and country this season.

Meanwhile, Sunderland keeper Jordan Pickford has been called up to the squad for his first England call-up.

He replaces Burnley’s Tom Heaton, who has picked up a minor injury.

Listen: ‘Rooney not good enough for England’

Pickford, 22, had been due to link up with the Under-21s for their Euro qualifier against Bosnia-Herzegovina.

Arsenal left-back Kieran Gibbs has also joined the squad, replacing Ryan Bertrand.

The Southampton defender suffered a hamstring injury in the 2-0 win over Malta.

This will be the fifth contest between these two nations, with England winning all previous four matches.

In England’s last meeting with Slovenia back in June 2015; Jack Wilshere scored twice for the Three Lions.

England’s nine goals against Slovenia have been scored by just five different players; with Frank Lampard netting one and Jermain Defoe, Wayne Rooney, Danny Welbeck, and Wilshere all bagging two each.

Match facts

  • Seven of England’s nine goals against Slovenia have come in the second half, including the last six in a row.
  • Slovenia have only lost one of their past nine qualifying games at home (W6 D2), although that came against England in June 2015.
  • England have lost only one of their past 15 away internationals (W9 D5) – a 2-0 loss in Spain in November 2015.
  • Slovenia have scored in three of their four previous matches against England.
  • England have won their past 14 qualifying games, and are unbeaten in their past 31 qualifiers overall (W24 D7).
  • England have kept clean sheets in six of their past seven away qualifying matches, but conceded twice in the other to Slovenia in June 2015.

Slovenia’s dangermen

Slovenia battled to a 1-0 victory over near-neighbours Slovakia on Saturday night in Ljubljana. BBC Sport’s Alasdair Lamont was at Saturday’s match and identifies the home side’s key men.


Defensive midfielder Krhin superbly marked Marek Hamsik against Slovakia

Rene Krhin: The 26-year-old defensive midfielder was arguably Slovenia’s most important player against Slovakia. His main task was to deny Slovakia’s playmaker Marek Hamsik time and space and he played the role to perfection. Krhin shadowed the Napoli star regardless of how deep he strayed to try to pick up possession. He was also a creative and powerful force at times, bursting forward to add to his team’s attacking threat.

Valter Birsa: Much of what Slovenia created came through the Chievo playmaker, operating in the number 10 role and finding pockets of space as the Slovakian back three were kept occupied by the front pairing of Roman Bezjak and Josip Olicic. Birsa has a wonderful left foot with which he threaded passes and whipped in set pieces, creating havoc in the Slovakia defence at times. He was replaced after 67 minutes, just before the winning goal.

Josip Ilicic: Like Birsa, Ilicic is blessed with a magnificent left foot and it was he who picked out a perfectly-weighted pass for Rok Kronaveter to strike the game’s crucial blow. The Fiorentina man was part of a front two but doesn’t play as an out-and-out striker. Rather he is given licence to roam left to drag markers out of position and create room for others. His touch can be sublime and England’s defence will have to be alert to deal with him.

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