Short of quarterfinals qualification by a single point, England manager Roy Hodgson will reportedly gamble and tinker with his lineup against Slovakia when the two sides kickoff the final Group B match at Stade Geoffrey-Guichard in Saint-Etienne.
Hodgson is expected to make six adjustments to his starting XI, with captain and forward Wayne Rooney, as well as striker Harry Kane, midfielder Dele Alli and Raheem Sterling all heading to the bench. Defenders Kyle Walker and Danny Rose will also sit out.
The players, and Rooney in particular, are rallying around Hodgson and his strategies while openly championing a contract extension for the 68-year-old.
"It shouldn't go unnoticed the amount of young players he's introduced into the squad over the last four years," Rooney told reporters Sunday. "There was a big issue in terms of everyone saying we didn't have the young players coming through in England which other countries had. In fairness to the Premier League clubs they've brought young players through and Roy has picked them.
"In my opinion he has not only created a very good team but also a fantastic atmosphere around the training ground when we meet up, and a great base for England's future in the next six to eight years."
In their stead, Jordan Henderson and Daniel Sturridge will hold down the attack, with Ryan Bertrand and Nathanial Clyne the defense, and Jack Wilshere filling in for Alli as Hodgson looks to rest his side after a stunning and exhausting 2-1 victory over Wales.
The Welsh pulled ahead after another pinpoint free kick from Gareth Bale, but Jamie Vardy provided the equalizer and Sturridge the winner in the stoppage time to put England and Hodgson in position to advance.
The move might seem risky given what finishing first in the group would mean in the next round. Currently, England, seeking a third straight trip to the quarters, would face a third-place squad in the quarters if it maintains first in the group, but a loss would allow Wales or Slovakia to climb the table and force the Three Lions to face a much stronger opponent.
And there’s plenty of reason to believe the Slovaks and star attacker Marek Hamsik can provide the upset. Hamsik assisted Vladimir Weiss for Slovakia’s opening goal and then put them ahead with his own in the 2-1 victory over last-place Russia.
Manager Jan Kozak’s side proved resilient and effective despite losing the possession battle 62-38 and surrendering 15 total shots to Russia, and pride will of course be a factor for the Slovaks.
Missing out on qualification for the last 20 years, Slovakia is making its inaugural trek through the tournament while aiming for its first victory over England. The Three Lions have won all three of their previous clashes with Slovakia, last notching a 4-0 friendly victory in 2009.
Prediction: England over Slovakia, 1-0
Kickoff: 3 p.m. ET
TV Channel: ESPN (USA); ITV 1 UK, ITV 2 UK, STV Scotland (England); STV1 Jednotka, HRT 2 (Slovakia)
Live Stream: ESPN3