Friday World Cup Qualifying Previews

The four home nations and Republic of Ireland are all in action this weekend as they all continue on what they hope is the Road to Russia next summer.

On Friday, England, Scotland and Northern Ireland are all in action.

In Group F – table toppers and unbeaten England travel to winless Malta but coach Gareth Southgate is not underestimating the Mediterranean minnows.

“The team defend really well and are organised,” said Southgate.

“The coach is an experienced one and is making good use of his resources. We have to be patient to break them down. They don’t allow many chances. We have to create as many clear opportunities as possible.”

In the same group Scotland still have huge hopes of making the play-offs but the trip to Lithuania looks a must win for Gordon Strachan’s side – but the Scots coach doesn’t see it that way.

“You don’t just have to win the game,” he said.

“If you get a point and you win the next three games, then that is 10 points.

“You couldn’t tell me 10 points couldn’t do it. That is why it isn’t a must-win.”

In Group C – Northern Ireland are in great shape and they will be looking for maximum and a good win in San Marino, but Michael O’Neill has warned his team again complacency.

“We’ve looked at how teams have not played as smartly as they could have and maybe underestimated San Marino,” O’Neill said.

“That’s something we’ve hammered home to the players.

“We don’t envisage it will be easy for us. Whether you win 1-0 or 6-0, it’s irrelevant; the key is making sure we win the game.”

See below for a run-down on the games, including predictions from former England, Crystal Palace and Tottenham midfielder Andy Gray, super agent Barry Silkman and our own Football Insider Graeme Bailey together with everything you need to know from the bookies – with Ladbrokes’s Alex Apati.

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Malta v England

KEY FACT: England have won all four previous meetings with Malta
MATCH ODDS: Malta 100/1 Draw 18/1 England 1/50
GRAEME SAYS: England will ease to the win here, earlier they take the lead the bigger the win…0-4
LADBROKES PICK: England to win to nil @ 1/3

Lithuania v Scotland

KEY FACT: Lithuania have only beaten Scotland once in nine attempts
MATCH ODDS: Lithuania 11/2 Draw 13/5 Scotland 6/10
GRAEME SAYS: Tough match this one for Scotland, I just about think they will win, but it won’t be easy…1-2 
LADBROKES PICK: Scotland to win @ 4/6

San Marino v Northern Ireland

KEY FACT: San Marino lost 4-0 when teams met in Belfast last year
MATCH ODDS: San Marino 90/1 Draw 16/1 N.Ireland 1/28
GRAEME SAYS: Northern Ireland are a different proposition nowadays, easy win…0-3
LADBROKES PICK: Northern Ireland -2 @ 1/2


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