Gareth Southgate may hand England youngsters Lithuania chance - sources
Gareth Southgate will hand opportunities to England's emerging youngsters in next month's World Cup qualifier against Lithuania if a place at Russia 2018 is secured with a positive result against Slovenia at Wembley on Oct. 5, sources have told ESPN FC.
England head coach Southgate is set to name his squad on Thursday for the forthcoming double-header, which will see the team qualify for the World Cup if they secure two points from the two fixtures.
A win against Slovenia will confirm England as winners of Group F, while a point at Wembley will also be enough to seal qualification if Slovakia fail to defeat Scotland at Hampden Park on the same date.
Should England travel to Lithuania with their place in Russia guaranteed, Southgate will use the clash in Vilnius on Oct. 8 to expose players such as Jordan Pickford, Harry Maguire and Nathaniel Chalobah -- if he overcomes a knee injury -- to competitive international football at senior level.
Southampton pair Nathan Redmond and James Ward-Prowse may also be given opportunities after impressing Southgate at under-21 level.
With Burnley goalkeeper Tom Heaton ruled out with a dislocated shoulder and Dele Alli facing the possibility of a suspension as a result of an obscene gesture allegedly directed at a match official during the Wembley win against Slovakia earlier this month, Southgate is facing two enforced changes to his squad.
But sources have told ESPN FC that there will be minimal disruption to the group, with few surprises expected when Southgate reveals his squad later this week.
Mark Ogden is a senior football writer for ESPN FC. Follow him @MarkOgden_