Townsend should start for England, but will be kept out by Milner
Roy Hodgson indicated on Match of the Day that he was pretty sure that he knew his best England team for the vital Group H World Cup qualifier with Montenegro if everyone was fit.
However, trying to work out how Hodgson will line-up in midfield and attack is not such a straight-forward task, especially as it is unclear whether he will set up 4-4-2 or 4-3-3.
Hodgson himself has admitted that he was slightly defensive minded for the most recent draw in Ukraine, with England not losing the game being of chief importance to keep their qualification hopes in their own hands.
Given that they are now back at Wembley and have to win to ensure their chances of reaching Rio remain in their own hands, a more attack-minded line-up should be expected.
England are 4/11 to beat Montenegro to remain top of Group H.
It is virtually impossible that Hodgson will leave this season’s Premier League top scorer Daniel Sturridge out, despite the Liverpool man not featuring for England since May’s draw with Ireland.
Wayne Rooney is also destined to start and the pair could lead the line in a 4-4-2, which would logically mean no starting berth for Danny Welbeck.
But given that Welbeck has been a regular starter under Hodgson, it is more likely that England will play 4-3-3, with the Manchester United forward lining up on the left.
Rooney should start as the number 10 behind Sturridge, leaving James Milner or Andros Townsend a spot on the right of the front three in the absence of Theo Walcott.
There are many reasons pointing towards Townsend being given a first cap. Namely, he has good experience of teaming up with Kyle Walker down the right side for Tottenham and Townsend’s desire to cut infield will only offer more space on the overlap for his clubmate to exploit.
Townsend is not afraid to shoot at goal and has had more shots than any other Premier League player this season who is yet to open their account.
And thirdly, with Montenegro likely to stack players behind the ball, a player that can run at the opposition and beat a man could prove a vital asset and Townsend has proved adept at this against both Chelsea and West Ham in the last few weeks.
But Hodgson is not the first manager to consider Milner as ‘Mr Dependable’ and it would be no surprise to pick the safer bet over the bolder option against Montenegro.
Therefore, backing Milner at 7/1 to score in the 90 minutes represents the far wiser punt than Townsend, who is only 4/1 to strike at any time at Wembley.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.
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