Following on from their five-goal victory against Moldova, England face Ukraine in their first home qualifier for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil. Roy Hodgson’s side will be wary of the threat from the Ukrainians, having faced them earlier this summer in the European Championships.
England made the perfect start with their 5-0 win in Chisinau on Friday night and Hodgson was able to run the rule over his young players such as Tom Cleverley and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain. Those two are expected to keep their roles in the lineup, despite Hodgson’s criticism of Oxlade-Chamberlain’s second half performance in the Zimbru Stadium. The England boss has revealed that he will keep the same team for the Ukraine game apart from one change, due to the injury John Terry suffered against Moldova.
Terry was ruled out with an ankle problem and he will either be replaced by Chelsea teammate Gary Cahill or Everton’s Phil Jagielka. Chelsea teammate Ashley Cole is still unavailable, so Everton left-back Leighton Baines will resume his role following an impressive performance in Moldova that he capped off with a goal. Jermain Defoe will continue up front, which leaves Manchester United striker Danny Welbeck eagerly waiting in the wings.
The game at Wembley is Ukraine’s first qualifying fixture, as they were not in action on Friday. Blokhin’s team have only played once since the Euros and they drew 0-0 with Czech Republic in a friendly and seem to be suffering from Andriy Shevchenko’s retirement. The Ukrainian striker is a big miss for Blokhin and the pressure is on Dynamo Kiev winger Andrey Yarmolenko, who is desperate to prove he can perform in the big fixtures.
Blokhin refused to let his Ukraine side watch England’s win in Moldova and believes the pressure is on the English. For Ukraine, they have also seen the retirement of veteran goalkeeper Olexandr Shovkovskiy so Blokhin is expected to pick the more experienced Andriy Pyatov over 19 year old shot-stopper Makysm Koval.
Hodgson’s first competitive match at Wembley sees him face up to one of the tougher teams in England’s group and victory would see them pick up the maximum points tally from the first two games. Ukraine will pose a threat with Yarmolenko and Yevhen Konoplyanka out wide looking to worry Hodgson’s side, but England will take heart from their performance against the Moldovans and will go into the game with full confidence of grabbing two wins from two.
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