Milner, Young or Townsend: Who should start for England?

Wembley England

With Danny Welbeck suspended, Roy Hodgson is likely to pick a winger to play in the United man’s place against Ukraine – but who should it be?

England head into the lion’s den on Tuesday night as they face an in-form Ukraine team in Kiev. Roy Hodgson has an attacking crisis on his hands, and with Danny Welbeck’s suspension the latest setback for the visitors, team selection of the essence.

With the Three Lions currently on top of Group H on goal difference and two home games at Wembley still to play, Hodgson will know that a draw tomorrow night is an acceptable result. A win will all but guarantee a place in Brazil, but a defeat could condemn England to the lottery of the play-offs.

With that in mind, Hodgson is likely to be cautious and will not partner Rickie Lambert with another striker. Jermain Defoe is the only real option, and with the Tottenham man lacking regular first-team football this season, a winger to replace Welbeck in the team that beat Moldova is expected.

There are a number of options of who should play. The first, and the most likely, is one of Hodgson’s favourites in the form of James Milner. The Manchester City man is an experienced professional, as fit as they come and dedicated to the cause. He is disciplined and hard working, but he is unlikely to set the world on fire.

It is most likely that Hodgson will pick the most defensive option out of the three players available, with the City winger sure to shore things up in front of Ashley Cole. With Ukraine dangerman Andriy Yarmolenko playing on their right flank, the defensive option of Milner to counteract the Dinamo Kiev attacker is  on the cards. But would an attacking player not be more fitting?

With the inexperienced Lambert up front by himself, Theo Walcott on the right and three central midfielders who will be urged to sit rather than bomb forward, wouldn’t a more attack minded wideman on the left give England a better chance of a positive result? Playing for a draw is surely a recipe for disaster.

Welbeck’s club team-mate Ashley Young is a more attacking option and has the ability to be a match-winner for the visitors. With 29 caps to his name the Manchester United man has played in big games before and suits a role on the left where he can come off the flank and get involved centrally if he wants.

Although the 28-year-old had an injury prone campaign in 2012-13, he is now back in the reckoning at Old Trafford and would add a real goal threat to what looks like a limited team attacking-wise with Milner in it.

Tottenham’s Andros Townsend is the third option, and certainly the most unlikely. The 22-year-old is the form player of the three and the man that has played the most football in the fledgling days of the new campaign. He is also the wildcard of the squad, with Ukraine unlikely to know much about him.

Townsend has shown for Spurs that he can be a devastating attacking weapon, and his inclusion would give England real pace on both flanks. Although he plays on the right wing for Tottenham, Townsend is actually left footed and as such this would give the team a bit more balance.

Playing an international debutant in a game of such magnitude is certainly a risk, but it could be an inspired choice. England will be solid with their three central midfielders, surely they can be allowed the luxury of a third offesnive player, even if a draw is good enough?

Milner is the most likely to play, Young is a more progressive choice and Townsend is the wildcard. Who should Hodgson pick?

image: © geetarchurchy

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