Crystal Palace midfielder Andros Townsend has replaced Raheem Sterling in Gareth Southgate's 23-man squad for the World Cup Qualifiers against Malta and and Slovenia. The in-form Manchester City winger withdrew from the squad due to an unspecified injury problem.

Sterling's place has been handed to the 25-year-old wideman, who has played 11 times for his country and scored three goals, but was not part of England's dismal campaign at Euro 2016. Since joining the South London club from Newcastle United over the summer, Townsend has played in all seven of Palace's Premier League games.

England face Malta on 8 October and Slovenia three days later, having won their opening qualifier 1-0 against Slovakia in September. On that occasion, an injury-time strike from Liverpool midfielder Adam Lallana was enough to secure victory in the one and only game of Sam Allardyce's ill-fated spell in charge.

Since then, Allardyce has been replaced by Southgate, who is poised to lead England for their next four World Cup qualifiers. The caretaker manager has revealed he is relishing the prospect of leading the senior national team, having recently been promoted from coaching the under-21s.

"The role is an honour. It was a difficult position for the organisation and it was important to show leadership and get things in place to give the team the chance of winning," Southgate explained. "As the week goes on I have thought about the honour it is to lead the team. I am looking forward to the challenge, in my view it is a wonderful job to have for whatever period of time.

"It is huge for my family and huge for everyone who has helped me in my career, everyone who has touched my career and helped me as a person will take enormous pride in seeing me take charge of the team."