Roy Hodgson and his England side travel to Chisinau to begin his first qualification campaign as England manager against Moldova. The Zimbru Stadium will play host to Hodgson’s men for the first time since September 1996 as England look for a winning start on their road to Brazil 2014.
England are unbeaten in open play in their short time under Hodgson, though their Euro 2012 campaign did end disappointingly to Italy in a quarter final penalty shoot out. However, since then, a make-shift England side defeated the Italians in a friendly in Bern last month and approach this qualification campaign in high spirits.
Hodgson has, as ever, not been helped by injuries and particularly in the forward positions with both Wayne Rooney and Andy Carroll missing from tonight’s match. The in-form Jermain Defoe, who hit the winner against Italy last month, is competing with Euro 2012 ever-present Danny Welbeck for the single striking spot.
Elsewhere, Ashley Cole, as well as wingers. Adam Johnson and Ashley Young have also been ruled out. Thus, Leighton Baines is expected to step up for his first competitive start for England at left back, while James Milner will vie with Arsenal club mates Theo Walcott and Alex Oxlade Chamberlain for the wide positions.
Hodgson also has a selection issue at the back – John Terry has recovered from his recent neck problems to take his place but his choice of partner is unclear, with Joleon Lescott, Gary Cahill and Phil Jagielka (a goalscorer against Italy) all being in good form for both club and country.
Minnows Moldova, who reportedly are being offered cash bonuses to cause an upset tonight, are at full strength under manager Ion Caras.
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