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HindustanTimes Sun,20 Apr 2014

Football

England await Ukraine threat
AFP
Kiev, September 10, 2013
First Published: 00:27 IST(10/9/2013)
Last Updated: 02:12 IST(10/9/2013)

A lack of available strikers means England will be forced to rely upon a makeshift attacking configuration in Tuesday’s pivotal World Cup qualifier against Ukraine in Kiev.

Friday’s breezy 4-0 win over Moldova elevated Roy Hodgson’s side to the top of European qualifying Group H, but a booking for Danny Welbeck ruled the Manchester United forward out of Tuesday’s game.

Liverpool’s Daniel Sturridge was subsequently ruled out due to a thigh strain, and with Wayne Rooney and Andy Carroll currently injured, it leaves Hodgson with a quandary at the sharp end of the pitch.

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Rickie Lambert, the 31-year-old Southampton striker, is expected to lead the line after scoring and laying on two goals for Welbeck against Moldova, as Jermain Defoe remains short of match fitness.

The importance of the game means that James Milner is set to replace Welbeck, with Hodgson having lauded the Manchester City midfielder’s defensive qualities after the game against Moldova.

“We know what James can do,” the England manager said.

“James isn’t and doesn’t pretend to be as exciting as some of the wingers we sometimes use these days.

“But the game in Kiev is going to be a game where we’re going to need the experience, we’re going to need the strength, we’re going to need the quality.

“He’s not a winger, but the qualities he brings could be very useful to us.”

Win, and England will move three points clear at the top of the group, ahead of the home games against second-place Montenegro and Poland in October with which they will conclude their campaign.

Lose, however, and England will cede top spot to the Ukrainians, and with it the initiative in the group.

England needed an 87th-minute penalty from Frank Lampard to salvage a 1-1 draw when the teams met last October and with Mykhaylo Fomenko’s men having just demolished San Marino 9-0, the Chelsea midfielder is anticipating another difficult game.

“I have been very impressed with them,” said Lampard, who is set to win his 100th cap at the Olympic Stadium. “They had a bad start to the group, but against us they played with a lot of talent. They have a lot of technical ability and pace on the wings.”


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