England ready to face Montenegro for World Cup Qualifier

Posted on by SoccerPunter

After humiliating San Marino with eight goals, England are on top form to face Montenegro which is at the top of Group H.

Both England and Montenegro have yet to lose in their World Cup Qualifier group matches. Click here for Montenegro vs England H2H stats.

Should Montenegro beat England, they will be entitled to the one and only automatic qualifying berth.

Montenegro, 28th in the FIFA ranking, avoided defeat in their two encounters with England in qualifying for Euro 2012 and their Podgorica City Stadium is expected to provide a hostile setting.

England manager Roy Hodgson, however, says that his side have been steeled for a scrap ever since the start of the qualifying campaign.

“We always knew this was going to be a bit of a dogfight, so only time will tell whether we can afford to lose Tuesday’s game,” he said.

“But we are not going there to lose. If Montenegro want the three points they will, hopefully, have to play very well, or we will have to have a very bad day.

“We have no intentions of having a bad day. We are going into the game with confidence.”

Hodgson is expected to make as many as six changes to the side that demolished San Marino, although centre-back Gary Cahill and forward Theo Walcott will both miss the game through injury.

The England manager has also revealed that Liverpool right-back Glen Johnson should be fit to play, having been excused from duty in Serravalle to rest a toe injury, although he may need a pain-killing injection.

“We hope it will get better in the next couple of days,” said Hodgson.

“If it doesn’t, it might need an injection, but there is no problem.”

On England’s last visit to Podgorica, 17 months ago, they recorded a 2-2 draw that allowed them to secure a place at Euro 2012, where they reached the quarter-finals.

However, the game was marred by the dismissal of striker Wayne Rooney for recklessly kicking out at Montenegro defender Miodrag Dzudovic.

In anticipation that Hodgson’s men will once again face an intimidating atmosphere in the Montenegrin capital, England captain Steven Gerrard has urged his team-mates to keep their heads.

“It is important we keep 11 men on the pitch because it is going to be a very difficult game,” he said.

“They will be trying to claim every decision, every foul, and they will be trying to intimidate the ref to make rash decisions.

“I’m sure we will have a good ref in charge who will make sensible decisions, but it’s important we keep our cool and keep everyone on the pitch.”

Montenegro are bidding to qualify for a major tournament for the first time since gaining independence from Serbia in 2006 and they preserved their grip on first place in the group by winning 1-0 at Moldova on Friday.

Mirko Vucinic, who claimed the game’s only goal, says England’s need for victory on Tuesday could play into the hosts’ hands, despite their opponents’ status as pre-match favourites.

“England are still one of the best teams and they start as favourites to win this match,” said the Juventus forward.

“But the situation is completely different when it comes to the group standings. That means they have to come and attack us.

“We have a stronger selection of players this time than in (qualifying for) the Euros – and England have a weaker defence because some of their players can’t play.”

Montenegro could be missing two of the four midfielders who started against Moldova, with Milorad Pekovic suspended and Filip Kasalica a big doubt after being stretchered off in Chisinau.

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