Two massive England games are on the horizon in the space of five days. England host Montenegro and Poland tonight and then on Tuesday. The pressure is understandingly mounting on the squad as their place in the World Cup next year is not guaranteed by any means.
This campaign has been especially uninspiring from Roy Hodgson's men, who have a less than spectacular 16 points from eight games. England sit top going in to the final round of group games but have only won four of the eight games played so far against San Marino and Moldova.
Hodgson has never been the most enigmatic of coaches in all of his time in management but tonight at Wembley Stadium he will need to be. The England fans deserve a show and a real performance. When you look through the players available, there should not conceivably be any problems, but as we know from the calamitous failure to qualify for the 2008 European Championships in Austria and Switzerland at the hands of Croatia, nothing can be taken for granted.
It is important that England start well and start positive tonight Hodgson is not renowned for attacking sides but it is important with the likes of Steven Gerrard, Jack Wilshere, Wayne Rooney and Daniel Sturridge all very likely to start tonight that he makes home advantage count and count early. On too many previous occasions England have started sluggishly which leads the natives to get restless.
Personally, I would adopt a 4-2-3-1 system that has worked so well for many sides this season already. This is a system that I am sure all the squad are familiar with. This has two midfielders in front of the back four which, for me, would be Wilshere and Gerrard. When defending they protect but when attacking one sits and the other joins the attack. This allows the full-backs to almost act as wingers and flood the midfield - in effect creating a seven-man attack.
Joe Hart is sure to keep his place for these two qualifiers after being backed by Hodgson and this is no surprise as Hart has been number one for the whole campaign. Everton's Leighton Baines is favourite to replace the injured Ashley Cole ahead of Arsenal's Kieran Gibbs who was called up as a replacement. Tottenham's Kyle Walker picks himself due to being the only right-back in the squad, whilst the impressive and solid partnership of Phil Jagielka and Gary Cahill looks set to continue.
England are very short in the winger department so it is not beyond the realms of possibility for Tottenham's Andros Townsend to start as he provides the injection of pace that England will need to break down what will be a stubborn Montenegro side. Rooney is in good form so expect him to play just off Sturridge and then there is a choice of Danny Welbeck or James Milner. Personally, I would go for Welbeck as he is more attack-minded but Hodgson seems to like Milner so we shall see.
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