England v Lithuania

Joe Hart
England v Lithuania, World Cup qualifying
Date: Sunday, 26 March Venue: Wembley Kick-off: 17:00 BST Coverage: Listen on BBC Radio 5 live or follow live text commentary on the BBC Sport website.

Joe Hart is expected to captain England in Sunday’s World Cup qualifier against Lithuania but says “it’s just an armband” to manager Gareth Southgate.

England skipper Wayne Rooney was left out of the squad, while Gary Cahill, who led the side in Wednesday’s defeat by Germany, is suspended.

“The captain’s armband is important, but with or without it, [Southgate] expects the same of us all,” said Hart.

The Manchester City keeper captained England in a 2-0 loss to Spain in 2015.

“The manager has made it pretty clear it’s just an armband to him,” added 29-year-old Hart, who is on a season-long loan at Italian side Torino.

“He wants the players, be it Marcus Rashford or myself, to lead.

“When he’s here, Wayne is our captain, the England captain, and when he’s not here, you’d probably say Jordan (Henderson) and then it moves down from there.”

Hart will be without two of the back three who started in front of him in the midweek friendly in Dortmund as Cahill is banned and Manchester United’s Chris Smalling is injured.

Manchester City’s John Stones is expected to start, while Burnley’s Michael Keane and Middlesbrough’s Ben Gibson are other options.

“We’ve got a good conveyor belt and some really good options”, said Hart.

“We’re certainly not having to downgrade in what we do. It’s another opportunity for someone to show what they can do at international level.”

England are top of World Cup qualifying group F with 10 points from four games.

Match stats

  • England have not lost a qualification match since October 2009, going 33 without a defeat since then across World Cup and European Championship campaigns.
  • The Three Lions have kept a clean sheet in five of their past six competitive matches.
  • England defeated Lithuania twice in qualification for Euro 2016, winning 4-0 at home and 3-0 away with all seven goals being scored by different players.
  • England are one of two sides yet to concede in European World Cup qualification, along with Germany.
  • Fiodor Cernych has scored in three of Lithuania’s qualification matches for the 2018 World Cup to date – all of them have been the first goal of the game.
  • Lithuania have lost four and drawn two of their past six qualifiers away from home.

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