World Cup qualifiers preview: England

Author : Shayne Dias
Jack Wilshere will be a key player for England

Jack Wilshere will be a key player for England

In the span of four days, England will take on both Montenegro and Poland in two must-win World Cup qualifiers. The Three Lions currently sit on top of Group H albeit they are only a solitary point ahead of Ukraine and Montenegro who sit in second and third place, respectively and will need to win this match in order to put themselves in a better position to qualify directly out of the club.

England took a safety-first approach against Ukraine in the last World Cup qualifier they played in and came in for plenty of stick from the media. Manager Roy Hodgson defended his choice by saying England could not be expected to beat a Ukraine side away from home. However, there is no more room for error and Hodgson will have to go for the win in both the remaining matches or risk depending on others results’ to see England through. Worse still, they could miss out on qualification altogether, something that will surely cost him his job.

Hodgson has a fairly good side to choose from, with Liverpool striker Daniel Sturridge and Manchester United hitman Wayne Rooney both available for selection this time around. He also has experienced campaigners in Frank Lampard and Steven Gerrard but is missing Ashley Cole, who was substituted during Chelsea’s win against Norwich after a knock to the ribs. Given the veteran defender’s mixed form of late, it’s safe to say he won’t be missed too much. His injury means that Everton defender Leighton Baines will probably start both games.

A lot will also be expected from Arsenal midfielder Jack Wilshere, who is currently in the midst of a fair bit of controversy. Not only was he caught smoking outside a nightclub in London, he kicked up a bit of a storm yesterday by claiming that only people born in England should be allowed to play for England. The young midfielder will be looking to put all this aside and do his best for England.

Even if the current English side don’t really have the squad to win the World Cup, it’s safe to say they should be able to at least qualify for the tournament. The truth is that they’ve made it a lot harder on themselves with Hodgson’s safety-first approach and now have it all to do in the final two games. Yes they still do have their fate in their own hands, but the fact of the matter is that England could have qualified out of this group a long time ago if Hodgson hadn’t chosen to go on the defensive against almost every ‘big’ side. Monetnegro are missing a few key players and should prove no trouble to beat but Poland won’t be an easy opponent, even if England have the home advantage.

The fact that English football is at an all-time low is common knowledge, but they are nowhere near as bad as some think. They can get the job done if Hodgson goes in to these games with a mind to win. Given that England have to win both these games, he’ll have no real choice in that matter. Should he choose to go safety-first, England will not make the World Cup. And he will lose his job.

Matches

MORE TOP STORIES TODAY

Kallis, Narine star in Knight Riders’ crushing win

Kallis, Narine star in Knight Riders’ crushing win

An all-round display saw Knight Riders thump Mumbai Indians by 41 runs in the IPL-7 opener. More »

Pietersen to miss Delhi's first game

Pietersen to miss Delhi's first game

The former England batsman will have to lead the franchise as he is out of the match against Bangalore with a finger injury. More »

Srinivasan named in fixing report: SC

Srinivasan named in fixing report: SC

The court emphasised that the tainted administrator can no longer work for the BCCI. More »

'If you do the wrong thing it will be found out'

'If you do the wrong thing it will be found out'

'Everyone knows what is right and what is wrong and if you do the wrong thing it will be found out' More »

Why I'm not looking forward to the IPL

Why I'm not looking forward to the IPL

Welcome to another season of a league that many watch but few trust. More »

Mitchell Johnson may quit T20s for Test cricket

Mitchell Johnson may quit T20s for Test cricket

Australia's Mitchell Johnson may quit limited-overs cricket to prolong his test career with an eye on the 2015 Ashes series in England, the fast bowler… More »

There's a lot going on: Fleming

There's a lot going on: Fleming

He experienced anxious moments in the lead-up to the tournament as the courts decided on whether to suspend the franchise, he said, but stressed that the… More »

Latif couldn’t work with tainted players

Latif couldn’t work with tainted players

Former Pakistan cricket captain Rashid Latif said Tuesday he turned down the job of national chief selector because he could not work with ex-players tainted… More »

We are not over-confident: Bailey

We are not over-confident: Bailey

Indian Premier League — George Bailey-led Kings XI Punjab will face Chennai Super Kings on Friday. More »

Taxing issue — BCCI hits roadblock

Taxing issue — BCCI hits roadblock

MoU between BCCI & its units to avoid double taxation delayed after a few decline to share details. More »

Big runs expected, with bat and ball

Big runs expected, with bat and ball

Royal Challengers Bangalore: Their main concern, once again, is the fast bowling More »

Black Caps pick rookie duo for West Indies

Black Caps pick rookie duo for West Indies

New Zealand selectors included two new caps in a 15-man Test squad named Tuesday to tour the West Indies, with injury-hit spinner Dan Vettori's future… More »

The stage is set for IPL-7 to start

The stage is set for IPL-7 to start

The Preview — Defending champions Mumbai Indians take on Kolkata Knight Riders More »

Srinivasan appeals to court to allow BCCI comeback

Srinivasan appeals to court to allow BCCI comeback

He was aggrieved by the allegations against him during the hearing. More »

Klinger on his exit from South Australia

Klinger on his exit from South Australia

Michael Klinger has revealed he felt compelled to leave South Australia after being told he would be only a fringe part of the Redbacks' plans for next season, and disputed the suggestion that he left… More »

India: cricket's Brazil

India: cricket's Brazil

They are tough to beat with a big talent base exposed to good facilities. (CYCSPL) More »

Delhi Daredevils say no to gifts

Delhi Daredevils say no to gifts

Franchises are doing their bit to refurbish the image of the tainted league. More »

India-Pakistan Test series likely in 2015

India-Pakistan Test series likely in 2015

The revival of Indo-Pak Test ties could take place in UAE. More »

Kohli hopes to end RCB trophy drought

Kohli hopes to end RCB trophy drought

'This time around we will hope to go few more steps ahead and actually get that trophy' More »

Gavaskar can help IPL regain glory

Gavaskar can help IPL regain glory

Apart from the foreign players a lot of behind-the-scene activity has taken place in selecting the Indian domestic players. More »

Tendulkar, Ganguly to promote soccer

Tendulkar, Ganguly to promote soccer

Leading Spanish club Atletico Madrid and former cricketers Sachin Tendulkar and Sourav Ganguly are among the owners of eight franchises of a new Indian… More »

This isn’t my first trip to India: Neesham

This isn’t my first trip to India: Neesham

Kiwi all-rounder wants to utilise the India leg to explore the country’s tourist attractions. More »

Ishant wanted to quit ODIs

Ishant wanted to quit ODIs

Says his mother made him change his mind. More »