Manager Gareth Southgate will name his first England squad of 2020 on Tuesday for next month’s Nations League fixtures against Iceland and Denmark.
He has several selection headaches – not least whether to include defender Harry Maguire.
Maguire, 27, pleaded not guilty and was released from police custody after his arrest in Mykonos last week.
Captain Harry Kane should be available despite being in quarantine following a trip to the Bahamas.
The disruption caused to the football calendar by coronavirus, including Euro 2020 being delayed by a year until 2021, means England have not played since November 2019, when a 4-0 win in Kosovo concluded their Euro 2020 qualification campaign.
England face Euro 2016 conquerors Iceland in Reykjavik on 5 September before playing Denmark in Copenhagen on 8 September.
Southgate could include several new faces such as Manchester United forward Mason Greenwood, Aston Vila skipper Jack Grealish and Manchester City playmaker Phil Foden in what is expected to be a larger than usual squad.
How does the Nations League work again?
Uefa’s 55 nations have been divided into four leagues, with the highest-ranked teams in League A and the lowest in League D.
Within each of those leagues, teams have been divided into four pots of four (with the exception of League D, which has one pot of four and one of three).
League A has been expanded to 16 teams from 12, meaning England are in a group of four teams, not three.
They will play Belgium, Denmark and Iceland home and away between now and 18 November.
|Group one||Group two||Group three||Group four|
|Bosnia and Herzegovina||Denmark||Sweden||Ukraine|
The teams who win each group in League A – as England did last time – will go into the finals tournament in September or October 2021. The teams who finish bottom will be relegated to League B.
Any team which finishes top of their group in Leagues B, C or D will be promoted. The teams who finish bottom of League B groups will be relegated, while there will be a play-off to decide which League C bottom teams are relegated because League D has only two groups.
Unlike the previous campaign, when the Nations League provided all the play-off spots for Euro 2020, this time the competition will provide only two play-off places for the subsequent major international tournament – the 2022 World Cup.
The best two Nations League group winners who do not qualify for the World Cup or play-offs through normal qualifying will go into the 12-team World Cup play-offs in March 2022.
Who was in the last squad? Who could miss out?
Southgate will be hoping to replicate England’s success last time out in this competition, when they topped a group featuring Spain and Croatia before finishing third overall following a semi-final defeat by the Netherlands.
Here is the 23-man squad Southgate picked when his team were last in action, against Kosovo nine months ago.
Starting XI: Nick Pope; Trent Alexander-Arnold, Harry Maguire, Tyrone Mings, Ben Chilwell; Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Declan Rice, Harry Winks; Raheem Sterling, Harry Kane, Callum Hudson-Odoi.
Subs: Kieran Trippier, Jordan Pickford, Danny Rose, John Stones, Fikayo Tomori, Mason Mount, James Maddison, Jadon Sancho, Marcus Rashford, Callum Wilson, Tammy Abraham, Dean Henderson.
Will Burnley’s Nick Pope continue in goal? Everton keeper Jordan Pickford’s place was in question before lockdown and he made several errors once the Premier League returned. Dean Henderson could be included – the Manchester United keeper is back at Old Trafford after an impressive loan spell at Sheffield United.
If Maguire is left out, Southgate is unlikely to turn to John Stones or Fikayo Tomori, who both played infrequently for clubs Manchester City and Chelsea respectively in recent months. Liverpool’s Joe Gomez could be a more likely fit.
Liverpool’s title-winning captain Jordan Henderson missed the last four games of the Premier League season with a knee injury and is likely to miss out, while Ben Chilwell, Luke Shaw, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and James Maddison all missed games for their clubs towards the end of the campaign.
Southgate is expected to pick players from City and United despite their European campaigns ending this month.