A tricky qualifier awaits
Though a 4-0 win against Moldova last week has signalled the side’s intentions to progress, a much harder task awaits England tomorrow night in World Cup qualifying.
September 9th, 2013
Having played a game more than second-placed Montenegro, England top the group with as many points – and will need three more against a Ukraine side who more than doubled England’s tally on Friday night against San Marino.
Their 1-1 draw at Wembley in November was a positive performance for an injury-hit England side but their opponents – having scored another nine in their previous three qualifiers – could overtake England into one of the top two places if they win, with only two matches remaining for England to avoid a play-off for a place in Brazil next summer.
This they will have to try and ward off tonight with only two fit recognised strikers, as Daniel Sturridge has withdrawn from injury and Danny Welbeck is suspended. Only Rickie Lambert and Jermain Defoe fit the bill as boss Roy Hodgson has elected not to replace any of his injured players.
“The thing that is a major, major negative is, after losing two centre-forwards of great quality, I have now lost a third one for a second booking,” Hodgson told BBC Radio, following Welbeck’s second yellow for timewasting on Friday on top of an apparent simulated dive against Montenegro earlier in the campaign.
Also in the news this week is Frank Lampard, who will achieve a century of appearances for England if he plays tomorrow.
“I will be very proud,” he told reporters, “…but first and foremost we need three points.”