Gareth Southgate will have his first chance to earn the England job on a full-time basis when he leads the national team to a European qualifier against Malta at Wembley.
Southgate has named his squad for the home qualifier and has included Jesse Lingard, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Ryan Bertrand. Glen Johnson also received a recall with the Three Lions but has had to withdraw due to injury which has allowed Burnley’s Michael Keane to get his first senior call up at the age of just 23.
Keane, a former Manchester United trainee, has been very impressive for Sean Dyche’s side this season at the back. The Burnley defender played for Southgate 16 times with the England under-21s so is familiar with the manager.
England are expected to continue their 100% start to their qualifying campaign against one of the minnows of international football when they take to the field against Malta. They can be backed at 1/50 in the international football betting to pick up the three points to add to those earned in Slovakia where Sam Allardyce’s side scored a last minute winner through Adam Lallana.
Southgate was named England under-21 manager in August 2013. He helped the side win the Toulon tournament for the first time in 22 years back in May when England beat France in the final 2-1. Since being hired by the FA back in 2011 to work as their Head of Elite Development, he has been labelled as a future England manager.
Although he publicly ruled himself out of the running for the senior job back in July when the FA were looking for Roy Hodgson’s replacement, it is thought the former Middlesbrough and England defender is now keen on the job full-time.
One of Southgate’s first tasks as temporary England boss was to retain Wayne Rooney as his captain. Although the Manchester United forward has dropped out of Jose Mourinho’s first team at Old Trafford, Southgate was keen to not to make too many changes to the regime set out recently by Allardyce.
With England expected to win comfortably against Malta, Southgate will already have one eye on his side’s trip to Slovenia just four days later. On paper that is one of the Three Lions’ toughest tasks in this group. Slovenia drew their first game in Group F against Lithuania and will face Slovakia at home before the England tie.
One of the biggest tests for Southgate in his temporary role may come next month when he has to prepare a side to face Scotland at Wembley. That game is likely to be a fiery affair between the two home nations and one which England fans will be desperate to win.
The final game Southgate will take charge of before a decision is made on the future of the job will come against Spain at Wembley. That is a good opportunity for the national team to test themselves against one of the elite nations in international football.