Southgate has elected to start Daniel Sturridge despite the striker not starting for Liverpool since 16 September in the 2-1 win over Chelsea, meaning that Manchester United forward Marcus Rashford has to make do with a place on the substitutes’ bench.
His teammate, Jesse Lingard, starts on the left to make his England debut with Theo Walcott making up the three-man attack on the right after his fine start to the season with Arsenal, and Alli is expected to be deployed in the No 10 role behind Sturridge.
It means that Rooney will revert again to the midfield role he filled during Euro 2016 under Roy Hodgson, with former manager Sam Allardyce choosing to play Rooney as a No 10 for his one and only game in charge against Slovakia. Allardyce resigned from the job last month following his involvement in an undercover investigation into corruption in football, which led the Football Association to appoint Southgate for the next four matches on an interim role.
Gary Cahill partners John Stones in defence despite his poor start to the campaign with Chelsea, while Kyle Walker and Ryan Bertrand are selected on the flanks with Joe Hart returning to England after a strong start to life in Italy with Torino.
Both Jamie Vardy and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain join Rashford on the bench along with Burnley’s Michael Keane in line to receive his debut should he come on the field.
England: Hart; Walker, Cahill, Stones, Bertrand; Henderson, Rooney, Alli, Walcott, Sturridge, Lingard.
Subs: Smalling, Forster, Rose, Dier, Keane, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Antonio, Vardy, Rashford, Townsend, Heaton.
Malta: Hogg; Zach Muscat, Agius, Camilleri; Borg, Kristensen, Sciberras, Fenech, Alex Muscat; Schembri, Effiong.
Subs: Zerafa, Failla, Mifsud, Muscat, Pisani, Bonello, Farrugia, Scerri, Scicluna.Reuse content