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Ukraine v England: Hodgson’s century club lack pizzazz to win

| 10.09.2013

Roy Hodgson may be giving it the ‘cup final’ soundbite he thinks the press want to hear, but realistically the England manager would chew your arm off for a point in Kiev and that’s the best bet for this crucial qualifier.

If England had all their best players fit for this daunting trip to Kiev, to face a bang-in-form Ukraine side, the 9/5 on a Three Lions victory may be worth a dabble, but even that would be a stretch.

However, given two of England’s brightest young stars in Danny Welbeck – who has become such an admirable performer for his country – and Daniel Sturridge, who looks the natural heir to spearhead any future England attack, are both sidelined, a tough task just became much tougher.

This has to be very much a head over heart bet, and there are many reasons why the draw at 21/10 is far more appealing.

After all, a much fuller-strength England squad have already turned in two extremely pedestrian performances, when labouring to 1-1 draws in both Poland and Montenegro, a scoreline which is available at 11/2 with Ladbrokes.

Wayne Rooney’s absence is also noteworthy, considering the Manchester United man has been responsible for both of England’s away goals in those aforementioned games.

Instead, England’s will more than likely be forced into fielding James Milner on the left, while Theo Walcott’s threat should still come from the right.

Immediately, and with no disrespect to either the efficiency of Milner or the line-leading attributes of Rickie Lambert, a pacey-looking England equipped to hit the Ukrainians on the break is not on the cards.

This becomes even more apparent when you have century-maker Frank Lampard alongside fellow centurion Steven Gerrard turning in a combined age of 78 between them in midfield.

Meanwhile, the fact the hosts are so high on confidence after recording four successive wins in the Group H, including a 4-0 demolition of former leaders Montenegro on their own turf, primes this for an exercise in containment.

A hard-fought point keeps England’s noses in front for two home games to come and that would be no disaster.

All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.

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Christian Crowther

Give Christian a sport with anything remotely spherical in it and he’ll happily while away the hours watching it on the box. However, he’d much prefer writing about, playing or betting on golf, football, cricket, tennis, snooker.... you get the picture.