England may benefit from Danny Welbeck suspension

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Football News

James Milner isn't one to get the hearts of England fans racing, but he is certainly the man to help England get the result they need against Ukraine.

A loss in tomorrow night's qualifier  will leave automatic qualification for next year's World Cup out of England's hands and will most probably get a play-off place at best.

Needless to say, England must avoid defeat. Considering their last three meetings with Ukraine has comprised of one win, one draw and one loss, three points - even one - is far from assured.

When Danny Welbeck was booked against Moldova, suspending him from tomorrow's game, there were calls that a striker crisis had hit England.

The suspension, coupled with injuries to Daniel Sturridge and Wayne Rooney, means the inexperienced Rickie Lambert is likely to deputise again with James Milner coming in for Welbeck.

England fans bemoan seeing the uninspiring Milner on the pitch, but this exchange will only do favours for a side needing to play defensively.

The Three Lions can not lose tomorrow. A draw will keep qualification in their hands, so a defensive-minded winger will only add reinforcements to a side that hasn't got the best of defences in the first place.

Milner hasn't got the goal scoring touch of Manchester United striker Welbeck or the pace of Arsenal's Theo Walcott but no one at Manchester City will deny that Milner's work rate is above and beyond the two.

Welbeck wants to score goals and therefore hangs in the opposition's attacking third waiting for the ball. He rarely tracks back for Manchester United or England and would have been a liability in Ukraine.

Milner, who has scored just once in 40 caps for England, won't provide much of an attacking threat but will likely cause Ukraine's offence more problems.

For a team looking to avoid defeat, his contribution could be priceless. Ukraine know it's win or bust and will likely throw the kitchen sink at England. Whilst Walcott can provide the threat from the break on the opposite wing, Milner can be that extra man in defence.

Whilst he remains a bit part player at the Etihad for Manchester City, he remains a valuable asset for his country.

It is also a mistake to consider Welbeck as a loss for England. If others were fit, he would be well down the pecking order. Lest we forget that he scored just one goal for Manchester United in the Premier League last season.

He did manage to get two on Friday but goals are much easier to come by at Wembley against Moldova than they will be in Kiev against Ukraine.

It is also worth mentioning that Welbeck has already doubled last season's Premier League tally at Old Trafford this season but his lack of international quality remains evident. 

Milner's 20 minute cameo against Moldova suggested that he will start tomorrow and Hodgson's comments have all but confirmed that suggestion.

He told reporters: We know what James will do.

"He isn't, and doesn't pretend to be, as exciting as some of the wingers we sometimes use these days.

"After a long period of time where I've not seen many wingers in the country, I'm now seeing lots of them.

"But we are going to need experience in Kiev. Milner is not a winger, but the qualities he brings could be very useful."

The comments suggest that Hodgson knows the limitations of this England side. They have struggled in this campaign against opposition who should not have caused them the problems they have.

He knows that a draw will see them keep control of the group and, if a point was offered to him now, no doubt he would rip your hand off.

Hodgson is going to Ukraine to defend and to hope that Walcott can supply some relief off the break. Welbeck, with his lack of pace, would have offered nothing in attack and his lack of defensive ability would have left him virtually useless.

With Milner in the squad, England lie a little safer at the back and can count on his experience if times get tough.

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Manchester United
Manchester City
Mike England
James Milner
Danny Welbeck
Premier League

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