Which side will Roy Hodgson go with for the crucial World Cup qualifier against Moldova on Friday? Will Liverpool's in-form Daniel Sturridge get the nod with Manchester United's Wayne Rooney out injured?
England head into the World Cup qualifying matches against Moldova and Ukraine needing maximum points as the lottery of a play-off game becomes more and more of a reality.
England have been plagued by problems in the build up to the event such as injuries to key players and criticism from Roy Hodgson over the way Premier League fixtures are scheduled.
England are missing several key players but Hodgson has to dig deep and find a side from somewhere which is capable of getting the job done and piling the pressure onto Montenegro.
Here is the side he could go with.
GK – Joe Hart
Hart has not had the best start to the season but it would take a brave man to judge someone as a better English goalkeeper than the Manchester City man. He’s more than capable of producing key saves at key times, while maintaining a solid command over his own penalty area.
RB – Kyle Walker
Glen Johnson would have been a sure fire bet for this position but the knock he picked up against Manchester United will keep him out. That means a chance for Tottenham’s Kyle Walker and it’s one he should relish in both an attacking and a defensive sense.
CB – Gary Cahill
Cahill has been an ever present in the Chelsea back four so far this season and he is more than likely to get the nod for this game. His pace and aggression are key attributes but he also offers a threat going forward for set pieces, which can make the difference in a tight game.
CB – Phil Jagielka
Jagielka has been one of England’s most consistent centre backs over the last few years and he should be very comfortable slotted in alongside Cahill. He reads the game well which enables him to compensate for a lack of pace and he’s as strong in the air as anyone else.
LB – Ashley Cole
It’s another Chelsea man who should complete the back four with Cole’s pace an asset in defence and also going forward. He is still one of the best full backs in the world when it comes to being able to provide an extra outlet for midfield, overlapping the winger and using space down the left.
RM – Theo Walcott
Walcott has gone on for a long time about his desire to move from right midfield into attack but for this match, he will be asked to hog the right side of the pitch. His pace is always a handy asset to have and it should enable him to not only beat the full back but also to race in behind.
CM – Steven Gerrard
Another close call but Gerrard is likely to get the nod. Gerrard’s leadership skills in the middle of the pitch will be vital as Moldova are likely to make things difficult and they could well be overly aggressive at times which means a calm head is needed.
CM – Frank Lampard
With Wayne Rooney unavailable, it means that Hodgson may well go with another central midfield player over a striker who can drop off. Lampard has started the season well and should be that man, enhancing the experience in the middle but also breaking forward to offer support to the lone striker.
CM – Jack Wilshere
For similar reasons it’s important that Wilshere plays but only if he’s fully fit. He’s one of the best players England have when it comes to getting a situation by the scruff of the neck, getting his head down and driving the midfield forward as a unit to capitalise on spells of pressure. A bout of illness has followed him but he should be fit.
LM – Ashley Young
Hodgson called up Andros Townsend, a naturally left sided winger, but it would be a huge risk to include him from the start. Ashley Young is a more likely starter and his delivery from wide areas, and more importantly set pieces, will be crucial over the course of 90 minutes.
ST – Daniel Sturridge
Sturridge looks like one of the most dangerous players in the Premier League so far this season. He has scored in all of Liverpool’s Premier League games and looks to be in fine touch ahead of this international. He should thrive in the role as England’s main striker, a job he’s been coveting all of his career.
How do you expect England to shape up this Friday?
image: © kuaver