England lost their first qualifier for 10 years with a 2-1 defeat to the Czech Republic in Prague on Friday evening and Gareth Southgate is set to change his team accordingly against Bulgaria tonight.
Mason Mount, Michael Keane, Jadon Sancho and Declan Rice are all set to miss out on a place in the starting XI as the England boss looks to get back on track before next summer’s showpiece, with Marcus Rashford likely to return.
The Three Lions will take on Bulgaria for the 12th time in total, and will be looking to keep up their unbeaten record and seal an eighth victory over Krasimir Balakov’s men.
Harry Kane’s hat-trick and a Raheem Sterling effort gave England a comfortable 4-0 win at Wembley in the previous fixture last month, and a repeat of that will do nicely for the former Middlesbrough boss after their recent loss.
“We’ve had a lot of plaudits but we’ve always maintained that there’s a lot of work to be done to be a really top team,” Southgate said before the weekend.
“I think tonight was clear evidence of that. We’ve got to get a response and it’s going to be an interesting couple of days for all of us because we haven’t had a result like that, we haven’t had a performance like that and we’ll learn a lot more about ourselves over the next 48-72 hours.
“Football is all about responding to setbacks. We haven’t had too many so it feels even more unpleasant because it’s a while since we’ve felt this way.
“None of us like it but that’s the reality and to sail through a qualifying group with no issue is very unusual.”
Strikes from Jakub Brabec and Zdenek Ondrasek cancelled out Kane’s early penalty as the away side failed to capitalise on their chances against the Czech Republic, with Southgate ultimately accepting the blame.
“I always have to accept responsibility,” Southgate added.
“We didn’t look any more solid without the ball and we were poor at using the ball in the first half.
“I think we were better in the second half and we created chances to win the game. But we collectively have to accept the result and, as the manager, I’ve got to accept that as well, absolutely.”
England team news: Predicted XI to face Bulgaria
Pickford; Alexander-Arnold, Maguire, Mings, Chilwell; Henderson, Winks, Barkley; Rashford, Kane, Sterling.