Having avoided the pitfalls suffered in early Euro 2016 qualifying matches by several other seeded countries, England will be confident of a fourth successive Group E victory at home to Slovenia on Saturday.
While teams like Germany, holders Spain, the Netherlands and Portugal have all suffered unexpected defeats, Roy Hodgson’s team have a 100 per cent record after games away to Switzerland (2-0) and Estonia (1-0) and at home to San Marino (5-0).
Throw in a 1-0 friendly success against Norway, underwhelming as it was, and they have yet to concede a goal this season after finishing bottom of their group at the World Cup in Brazil.
Switzerland, supposed to be their strongest rivals this time, have already lost two games out of three and Slovenia lost their opening match against Estonia.
They recovered to defeat Switzerland and Lithuania, who meet on Saturday.
Hodgson is too old a hand to take anything for granted, however, and he is pleased not to have suffered serious disruption to his squad of 26, which includes the uncapped West Bromwich Albion striker Saido Berahino.
With Manchester United’s Wayne Rooney and Arsenal’s Danny Welbeck available, Berahino may have to wait until the friendly match away to neighbours Scotland on Tuesday for a first appearance.
Rooney, in contrast, is due on Saturday to become the ninth England player to earn 100 caps.
“I’ll be proud to join that club and it is something that myself and my family would be honoured by,” he says in an interview for Saturday’s match programme.
After scoring in England’s last two games, two more goals would take Rooney ahead of Jimmy Greaves as his country’s third highest scorer with 45.
Slovenia also have a striker in good form in 35-year-old Milivoje Novakovic. Now playing for the Japanese club Shimizu S-Pulse, he scored all three goals in the wins over Switzerland and Lithuania and is a veteran of the two previous meetings with England in 2009 and at the 2010 World Cup, both lost by a single goal.
Disciplined defending and quick counter attacks were decisive in the recent victories and have given captain Bostjan Cesar renewed belief.
“Two successive wins have boosted our confidence and we won’t just roll over although we know it’s going to be a tough match,” he told sports website, www.ekipa24.si.