Following their comfortable 5-0 victory over San Marino on Friday Night, England face a much tougher task in their next World Cup qualifier. Roy Hodgson’s Three Lions travel to Warsaw to face Poland, who will be keen to keep the unbeaten record they have maintained during qualifying so far.
England are top of Group H after two wins and their tough draw with Ukraine, so the trip to Poland will be vital for Hodgson’s side. Their easy win at San Marino will be behind them and Poland provide much tougher opposition, so changes are expected from the England boss. Steven Gerrard is expected to resume his role in central midfield, having been suspended for the win over San Marino, and regain the captain’s armband from Wayne Rooney.
Gerrard’s club teammate Glen Johnson is also back from his one-game suspension and could replace Kyle Walker at right back, despite the Tottenham man looking assured at Wembley on Friday night. Another selection headache Hodgson has to deal with is whether to keep faith with Danny Welbeck, who scored a brace against San Marino, or recall Jermain Defoe as the striker that Rooney will play just behind. Defoe has scored 17 goals in his last 19 England starts, but Welbeck is the highest scorer of the Hodgson era and is in confident form.
One man Hodgson will definitely have to replace is Theo Walcott. The winger has been ruled out of the game after he was substituted with a chest injury following a collision with San Marino goalkeeper Aldo Simoncini. Chelsea duo Frank Lampard and Ryan Bertrand are still unavailable for selection and have not travelled to Warsaw.
Since their failure to qualify from their group at Euro 2012, Poland have changed managers by bringing Waldemar Fornalik into the job. As hosts, Polish fans expected much better and the former Ruch Chorsow manager is seeking to help Poland qualify for a major international tournament for the first time since 1986. Poland have started well with a 2-2 draw away in Montenegro and a 2-0 victory over Moldova at home, but Fornalik has injury worries ahead of their toughest fixture yet.
Captain Jakub Blaszczykowski is Poland’s leading scorer in 2012 with four goals in nine games, but the Borussia Dortmund will not face England as he is suffering with an ankle problem. Arsenal’s goalkeeping pair Wojciech Szczesny and Lukasz Fabianski are both injured, so Przemyslaw Tyton is expected to start in goal. England will have to deal with the threat of Robert Lewandowski, who is on the transfer target list of several Premier League clubs.
Poland have not won against England since 1973, when they secured a 2-0 victory over an England side managed by Alf Ramsey. Hodgson will be looking to preserve this unbeaten record against a team listed 49 places underneath the Three Lions, but Poland will still pose a threat and the England players are prepared for a much tougher task than the walk-in-the-park they had on Friday night.
See what the expert tipsters at OLBG are tipping on Poland