Off-field issues and all change on pitch? Talking points before Poland-England

By Mark Mann-Bryans

England face Poland in Warsaw on Wednesday night looking to make it three wins from three games this month.

The Three Lions have beaten Hungary and Andorra so far in September to maintain their unbeaten start to World Cup qualification.

Here, the PA news agency looks at some of the key talking points ahead of the Group I encounter in the Polish capital.

Off-field worries

Raheem Sterling was among the England players targeted with monkey chants during the win in Hungary (Attila Trenka/PA) (PA Wire)

Hungary were hit with FIFA charges after monkey chants were aimed at England’s black players during last Thursday’s 4-0 win in Budapest. There will be concerns that similar incidents could potentially occur in Warsaw, with Poland having had sanctions in the past for racist offences. England’s players will again take the knee before kick-off in their now-familiar stance against all forms of discrimination and – with no away fans officially in attendance – the reaction to the gesture is expected to be largely negative.

All change?

Southgate saved his big-hitters to bring off the bench in the win over Andorra (Nick Potts/PA) (PA Wire)

Gareth Southgate made 11 changes to his starting line-up for Sunday’s 4-0 win over Andorra, the first time since 1982 that an England team has been completed altered from one game to the next. He turned to the likes of Harry Kane Jack Grealish and Mason Mount to come off the bench and make sure of the victory last time out and the trio will be expecting recalls in Warsaw. Other regular starters are also likely to be drafted back into the team as England prepare to face their closest rivals in the group.

Kane aiming for net gains

Despite coming off the bench against Andorra, there was still time for Kane to score his 40th England goal when converting a late penalty. That drew the England captain level with Michael Owen in the all-time leading goalscorer charts for the Three Lions. A goal against Poland would move Kane into outright fifth place, with Jimmy Greaves (44) the next man in his sights.

Keep it tight

England’s goalkeepers have been hard to beat in 2021 (Nick Potts/PA) (PA Wire)

England broke their consecutive clean sheet record when Jordan Pickford and his defenders kept Ukraine at bay in the quarter-final of Euro 2020. It meant a run of seven games without conceding for Southgate’s side, who have let in just three goals in their last 15 matches. Another record can fall in Poland, with England needing one more clean sheet to break their record in a single year – which currently stands at 11 back in 1966.

Lew Order

That 2-1 win earlier in the year was England’s most difficult challenge in Group I so far. This clash will prove a sterner a test given it is away from home and with captain and record goalscorer Robert Lewandowski available for Poland. The Bayern Munich striker suffered a knee injury in the build-up to the Wembley game but will be keen to once again show his ability this time around.

What is inkl?

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