England travels to Ukraine on Tuesday night to play an important World Cup qualifying match. Both teams enter the game after big wins on Friday. England beat Moldova 4-0 at Wembley and Ukraine won 9-0 against San Marino. The results, coupled with Poland's 1-1 draw against Montenegro's 1-1, have opened up the possibility of all four teams qualifying. After Friday's games, England leads with 15 points, tied with Montenegro and one point ahead of Ukraine. Poland are in fourth position with 10 points. Montenegro have played one more game than their rivals, meaning they will not be in action on Tuesday. With only three games remaining, a win for England would almost guarantee qualification, as they would open up a three-point gap on Montenegro, a four-point gap on Ukraine and an eight-point gap to Poland. A win for Ukraine would see them overtake England and lead the group. Unfortunately for fans, a draw would suit both teams, maintaining the point differential at only one point with two games to play. In the two remaining games, Ukraine play San Marino and Poland, San Marino a guaranteed victory. England play Montenegro and Poland, undoubtedly tougher but softened by both being home fixtures. Montenegro have still to play Moldova, a game they are expected to win. If England are able to grab a draw from the game, the fixture against Montenegro at home will be decisive in the final standings. It is likely England manager Roy Hodgson would need to win a home fixture against Montenegro than an away fixture against Ukraine, especially considering his team's injury problems.
Hodgson is struggling to find fit strikers for the game. Wayne Rooney is out with a cut to the head, Daniel Sturridge has a thigh injury and Andy Carroll is unavailable due to a foot problem. Furthermore, after having picked up a yellow card in the game against Moldova, Danny Welbeck is suspended. Southampton striker Rickie Lambert is expected to lead the forward line.
England captain Steven Gerrard is confident his team can cope without Rooney.
"Obviously Wayne is a world class player, any team would miss Wayne when he's not available," Gerrard was quoted as saying by ESPN. "But I think we've got more than enough in the squad and the 11 to do the job out here and as the manager says, confidence is high in the group."
"We believe if we defend well tomorrow night we've got a great chance of getting the result we want," he added.
Hodgson also has a problem on his right back. Glen Johnson and Phil Jones are both unavailable. Tottenham Hotspur defender Kyle Walker should play in their place.
Manager Mykhaylo Fomenko is not suffering from injury crises like his counterpart. The coach, who has masterminded for straight wins in qualification since his appointment, will be hoping that attacking trio of Marko Devic, Yevhen Konoplyanka and Andriy Yarmolenko can break down England's defence.
The Ukraine team have been active in playing mind games. Captain Anatoliy Tymoshchuk publically stated that despite his opponent's star names, Ukraine are the better team.
"England might have names that all football fans know around Europe, but Ukraine are better," he was quoted as saying by Mirror. "We are more balanced and when you see us play we look more of a team than England - more like we are in tune with each other. That is why there is real belief within the squad that we can qualify for Brazil."
Where to Watch
Kick-off is at 12:15am IST (Wednesday, 11 September) and live coverage is available on Sony Six.