Monday World Cup qualifying preview

England, Scotland and Northern Ireland continue their World Cup qualifying quest on Monday evening, with all of them coming off the back of victories last weekend.

England overcame Malta in a far from convincing performance but they sit firmly on top of Group F, two points ahead of second placed Slovakia.

Victory for Gareth Southgate’s side would all but confirm qualification, but defeat would see Slovakia overtake them.

Southgate is anxious for a win, but he is hoping for full backing from the fans at Wembley after some sections of the Three Lions fans booed them for their performance in Malta

“What I hope is the fans really get behind us,” he said.

“There’s nothing better than playing in your own stadium and feeling the fans are a huge advantage for you and intimidating the opposition. That’s what supporting is all about.

“I understand our job is to entertain and excite the supporters. But we want to get to a World Cup. Would we rather the fans were with us? Bloody hell, of course.”

Scotland boss Gordon Strachan will be hoping for an England win, as if they match an English success against Malta at Hampden, then they will be just one point off Slovakia in second and a possible play-off spot.

“We have dragged ourselves out a bad place,” said Strachan.

“We could only have done that if we believed in each other and enjoyed working with each other.”

Northern Ireland host the Czech Republic in Belfast in Group C, knowing that a win would seal them second place begin Germany and book their places in the play-offs.

Michael O’Neill side are in confident mood, after their win over San Marino last week and the Northern Irish boss feels his players will be ready.

“The Czech Republic are a very dangerous side, the pot-two side in the qualifying draw, and we will have to be at our best to win,” he said.

“The prize is much greater for us than for them. They have to win to stay alive. We have to win to guarantee second place. I would rather be in our situation.”

Elsewhere, after Belgium became the first European nation to qualify for the finals, they can be joined by Germany. Brazil, Iran, Japan and Mexico are other nations to have qualified and join hosts Russia thus far.

See below for a run-down on the games, including predictions from former England, Crystal Palace and Tottenham midfielder Andy Gray 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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England v Slovakia

KEY FACT: Sam Allardyce was manager of England last time these two teams met
MATCH ODDS: England 2/5 Draw 17/5 Slovakia 8/1
ANDY SAYS: England will win this with Wembley crowd behind them…2-0
Ir England should be good enough to win this but could be difficult…2-1

Scotland v Malta

KEY FACT: Scotland have never lost to Malta
MATCH ODDS: Scotland 1/20 Draw 12/1 Malta 33/1
ANDY SAYS: Scotland will be too good for Malta, easy win…4-0
Scotland did well in Georgia and they will get the win they need here…3-0

Northern Ireland v Czech Republic

KEY FACT: Northern Ireland need point to secure top-two finish in Group C
MATCH ODDS: N.Ireland 2/1 Draw 19/10 Czech 8/5
ANDY SAYS: I can see Northern Ireland taking this one but be close…1-0
A tough game and they could cancel each other out…0-0

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