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Talking points ahead of England’s match against Poland

Gareth Southgate File Photo
(Image credit: Michael Regan)

England host Poland in a World Cup qualification clash at Wembley on Wednesday night.

Gareth Southgate has seen his side win their opening two Group I fixtures and will be keen to sign off from the March international break with a hat-trick of victories.

Here, the PA news agency takes a look at some of the key talking points ahead of the game.

Last chance to make a case for Euros

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Wednesday’s match is the last time England will play before Southgate names his squad for the rescheduled European Championship finals.

There are several positions still up for grabs and those players not yet assured of a place in Southgate’s final selection will be keen to catch the eye.

With almost three months to go until a ball is kicked at Euro 2020, even those who may be on the fringes of Southgate’s thinking will want to go out with a bang – as injuries and issues are likely to hit before the summer.

Who is in Pole position to replace Lewandowski?

Robert Lewandowski File Photos

Robert Lewandowski will not be playing at Wembley on Wednesday (Adam Davy/PA)

Poland will be looking for their first win over England since 1973 – but will be without captain and all-time leading goalscorer Robert Lewandowski.

The Bayern Munich striker was forced to pull out of the game with a knee injury, having scored three goals in Poland’s opening two Group I games.

In the absence of their talisman, the onus for goals in the Poland side will fall on his strike partner Arkadiusz Milik – who has scored 15 times in 58 caps but has found the back of the net just once in his last nine international appearances.

Pope praying for another quiet night

England v San Marino – FIFA World Cup 2022 – European Qualifying – Group I – Wembley Stadium

Another clean sheet would suit Nick Pope (Adrian Dennis/PA)

Nick Pope became the first England goalkeeper to keep six clean sheets in his first six appearances as the Three Lions won 2-0 in Albania on Sunday.

The Burnley goalkeeper has been told he will start again against Poland as, with Jordan Pickford injured, he is given a chance to stake his claim for the number one spot.

The absence of Lewandowski should help him in his quest to enjoy a seventh straight shut-out, but he may expect to be busier than previously – having only faced seven shots on target across his previous six caps.

Three and easy at the back for England?

England v San Marino – FIFA World Cup 2022 – European Qualifying – Group I – Wembley Stadium

Conor Coady is an option at the back for England (Adam Davy/PA)

Southgate has operated with a back four in the first two World Cup qualifiers but has always said his side are equally capable of going in with a three-man defence.

As the Poland fixture is the most difficult of the three March internationals, whatever approach Southgate opts for on Wednesday could be seen as his preferred system heading into the Euros.

He certainly has enough options to move to a three, with Conor Coady adept in that system and Kyle Walker having played on the right of a defensive trio at the World Cup.

Mason able to keeping Mounting his case

Mason Mount File Photo

Mason Mount scored against Albania (Florian Abazaj/PA)

Chelsea midfielder Mason Mount has started England’s last seven games as he continues to impress at international level.

Southgate is a keen fan despite there being criticism of Mount’s continued inclusion in the starting line-up – but the 22-year-old is available for the Poland game after an initial fitness worry on Tuesday morning.

“He didn’t warm up with the rest of the team but did the session after so he should be fine,” Southgate said.