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England’s striking woes worsened following Sturridge withdrawal

| 08.09.2013

England’s tough trip to Ukraine has been made a whole lot tougher following the withdrawal of on-song striker Daniel Sturridge from the squad.

The Three Lions are 29/20 to win in Kiev, with the hosts available to back at 15/8 and the draw a 9/4 alternative.

Roy Hodgson’s men fly east at the summit of Group H after a routine spanking of Moldova last time out, though only goal difference separates them from the consistently surprising Montenegro in second. Their next opponents lie a point further back.

Much will depend on this game regarding their hopes of qualifying for Brazil 2014 though. Should England lose, Ukraine will claim pole position and will only have to beat Poland to be virtually guaranteed it given that the simple task of defeating San Marino will be all that’s required of them afterwards.

England’s loss of their most potent striker, whose groin complaint has shown no signs of rapid heeling, could not have been less timely. The Ukrainians have now kept two shut outs on the spin following their 9-0 mauling of San Marino last time and are more than capable of frustrating their next adversaries.

This result not only rocket propelled their goal difference to rival that of England’s, it compounded the 4-0 battering of Montenegro in Podgorica to put them right into contention to advance from Group H.

Such stringency will have them in good spirits ahead of what is likely to prove a decisive fixture and England’s striking deficiencies will only add to this.

They are already without Wayne Rooney and Danny Welbeck through injury and suspension respectively, which means Rickie Lambert – who has now notched two goals in two international outings following his strike against Moldova – is likely to lead the line.

The Southampton man is a 6/1 shout to open the scoring in Kiev or 7/4 to bag at any time, but with cautious Hodgson set to be even more circumspect given the disintegration of his first-choice attack, a 2/1 punt on the third Ukrainian clean sheet in as many matches will be the more profitable avenue to explore.

All odds and markets accurate as of publication’s time and date

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James Middleton