Gareth Southgate has told his players to express themselves at Wembley against Malta

Gareth Southgate has told his England players to show no fear and express themselves as they kick off his reign against Malta today.

The interim Three Lions boss will start Wayne Rooney – despite concerns over his form – and Arsenal forward Theo Walcott in the Group F clash at Wembley.

Southgate wants his men to shed the fear that has previously prevented our international players from reproducing their Premier League form on the international stage.

As his side prepared to take on the team ranked 176 in the world, he said: “My job is to give these guys the freedom to go and play. I’ve been through everything in my career, so I’m less bothered about what happens in the end. I am looking at what we can achieve.

England players were all smiles during training ahead of the Malta game

“I want them to be brave and excite the supporters. Any England team that goes out, I want them to play with style. Winning is the ultimate aim, but that will be a consequence of the performance and our work every day.

“When I played with England we had a couple of managers who I felt, whether it was expressed or not, allowed us to be as good as we might be.

“A couple, you sensed, were more worried about you making mistakes. Sometimes that can be simple language used, but it puts doubt in the players’ minds.

Gareth Southgate makes the step up from under-21 boss

“These guys have huge talent and huge potential, and I want them to go and fulfil that. There’s enough surrounding any game that puts doubt in your mind. We have to focus on what they do everyday to transfer it out on to the field.”

England beat Slovenia in their opening Group F World Cup qualifier on September 4. Sam Allardyce then left his post, after his only game in charge, by mutual consent.

Southgate is without Everton defender Phil Jagielka, who withdrew with a thigh injury yesterday. He revealed he is also monitoring Chelsea centre-back Gary Cahill.

England training ahead of World Cup qualifiers

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He added: “I have to say it has been a remarkable week injury-wise, losing Adam Lallana so early on the back of Harry Kane, Raheem Sterling, Danny Drinkwater and Nathaniel Clyne.

“At times have been thinking ‘is this the landscape every time’ but I am used to that dealing with the under-21s.”