Who should start up front against Ukraine? Lambert or Defoe?

Roy Hodgson has been left with a selection dilemma ahead of Tuesday’s World Cup qualifier against Ukraine.

England were superb against Moldova, securing a professional 4-0 win to move to the top of Group H ahead of their last three World Cup qualifying matches.

However, the evening was marred by the confusing yellow card which was shown to Danny Welbeck which now keeps him out of the crucial match away to Ukraine through suspension.

It further reduces what was already a fairly limited variety of strikers and creates three options for Hodgson ahead of Tuesday’s match; show faith and stick with Rickie Lambert, start Jermain Defoe up front on his own or play them both together.

The first option of those three is the most likely. Lambert did nothing wrong in the match last night, getting himself a goal and only being substituted late on when he started to look a little fatigued.

He is a far better player than simply being a straight up target man but in the hostile atmosphere of Ukraine, England will more than likely need his strength and ability to hold the ball up.

The Ukrainians will put together big spells of pressure where England will get pinned inside there own defensive third, which makes having someone to hit the ball long to very important.

It’s also the sort of job that Lambert should thrive on because mentally, he’s still experiencing things he may never have expected which has the ability to make him raise his performance levels to an above average point.

The obvious advantage in going with Defoe for the match is his superior experience against the fact he’s a smaller, different type of striker.

Defoe is quicker and could be very effective trying to get in behind the Ukraine defence on the counter attack and during spells in the game where England are able to enjoy a bit of possession.

However, he could get bullied if England try to play the ball long to him, expecting him to hold up play while the defence and the midfield clears lines and moves higher up the pitch.

There are merits in playing them both together but the problem is that the occasion of playing away against a very good team means if Hodgson goes with that tactic, he’ll need one of them to drop off into the midfield on occasions.

He’ll need someone to become a creative force at the top of the midfield, providing an extra body in the middle to make it more difficult for Ukraine to play the ball through the heart of England’s team.

As good as Lambert and Defoe are as forwards, that’s not something that either of them are used to do and it’s a job which could leave either of them looking a little bit lost.

Lambert deserves the chance to start and he should relish another opportunity.

Who do you think should start up front?

image: © philosophyfootball

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