England need four points from their final two group games to be certain of qualification to the 2022 World Cup.
England’s lead at the top of Group I was cut to three points on Tuesday evening as they were held to a 1-1 draw with Hungary at Wembley, while Poland beat Albania 1-0 to move into second place.
Gareth Southgate’s side can still secure qualification with a game to spare if they beat Albania at Wembley next month and Poland drop points away to Andorra.
They can also secure their place at the tournament with a game to spare if they draw with Albania – but only in the unlikely event that Poland lose against minnows Andorra.
Given Poland will be expected to beat Andorra, who are ranked 156th in the world, the likelihood is that England will not be certain of qualification until after their final group game away to bottom side San Marino on Monday November 15.
And with only a first-placed finish guaranteeing qualification, there is still little margin for error – particularly given that reaching Qatar with a second-place finish is not straightforward.
The 10 runners-up from the group stage will join two group winners from last season’s Nations League in a mini-tournament in March that will see only three more teams qualify.
England could still find themselves involved in that scrap if they drop points in both of their final two group games.
England’s remaining fixtures
Nov 12 – Albania (h)
Nov 15 – San Marino (a)
The 2022 World Cup is taking place in Qatar in the winter months rather than the usual summer ones, due to the heat.
The tournament kicks off on Monday November 21 at the Al Bayt stadium in Al Khor with a match that will feature the host country.
The final will be played at the Lusail Stadium in Doha a week before Christmas on Sunday December 18.
The tournament will feature 32 teams in eight groups of four.
Four matches will be played each day during the group stage, which will run over a 12-day period and see winners and runners-up progress to the round of 16.
Matches will only be assigned to particular venues after the finals draw, so organisers can choose optimal kick-off times to suit television audiences in different countries, as well as supporters out in Qatar.
The finals draw is scheduled to take place in April 2022, after the March window for international fixtures.
Unlike at Euro 2020, there will be a third-place play-off game on December 17.
Group stage: November 21- December 2
Round of 16: December 3-6
Quarter-finals: December 9/10
Semi-finals: December 13/14
Final: December 18
Follow England vs Hungary on Tuesday (kick-off 7.45pm) with our live blog, and watch free match highlights on the Sky Sports website and app, as well as the Sky Sports Football YouTube channel