San Marino - England Preview: Roy Hodgson left with selection dilemma after Ferdinand withdrawal

The Three Lions take on Fifa's worst ranked international side and will be short of options in defence with the Manchester United defender, Gary Cahill & Michael Dawson all missing

Giampaolo Mazza has a full squad to select from ahead of England’s Friday night visit and is likely to field a similar side to the one that was thrashed 6-0 last time out by group leaders Montenegro.

Three Lions boss Roy Hodgson has had to deal with several selection issues ahead of the encounter, though, with Gary Cahill, Michael Dawson and Jack Wilshere all withdrawing through injury and Rio Ferdinand pulling out after his unexpected return to the England fold.

The catalogue of personnel changes leaves England short of options at centre-half, with Newcastle’s Steven Taylor in contention to win a first cap. However, it is likely Hodgson will opt for the relative international experience of Joleon Lescott and Chris Smalling ahead of the more match-primed duo of Taylor and Steven Caulker.

Steven Gerrard, Ashley Young and Kyle Walker were all absent from an early-week training session yet all are expected to be fit for the game, while Wayne Rooney is expected to partner Manchester United team-mate Danny Welbeck up front for the visitors.

  • England and San Marino have met three times previously, with the Three Lions winning every meeting with an aggregate score of 18 goals to one.
  • San Marino have not scored a goal in competitive football since 2004.
  • San Marino are currently joint bottom of Fifa's international rankings, level with Bhutan and Turks and Caicos Islands.
  • Joe Hart is the only player to have featured in every minute of England's 2014 World Cup Qualifying campaign.
  • The last time England played away from Wembley they were on the receiving end of a four-goal Zlatan Ibrahimvich haul that resulted in Roy Hodgson's first defeat as Three Lions manager.
  • In terms of percentage of games won, Hodgson (61.5%) has edged ahead of Sir Alf Ramsay (61.1%) yet is in second-place in the all time list behind Fabio Capello (66.7%).
  • The estimated population of San Marino is 32,404 - enough to fill just over a third of Wembley.