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England vs Montenegro: My Team Predictions

Goalkeeper: Joe Hart- Many have called for Joe Hart to be dropped following numerous unsatisfactory performances in the league so far this season, however with two very inexperienced goalkeepers providing back up to the England number one, it would be foolish to change things with such important fixtures ahead. If Hart’s performances continue to decline over the course of the season Frazer Forster will have to come under serious consideration for the number one goalkeeping berth following some outstanding performances in a Celtic jersey, but for now I think the time for change is not quite right in this department.

Right Back: Kyle Walker- Due to the injury of Liverpool right back Glen Johnson and the important pair of qualifying matches being staged on home turf I believe that Kyle Walker is the perfect candidate for the right back role. If the matches were staged away from home I would be inclined to select Manchester United defender Phil Jones due to his defensive superiority over Walker, although at home against a weaker opposition ‘no disrespect to Montenegro’ we should be focused on attacking the opposition and with Montenegro set to adopt a very tight and defensive formation I believe the best way to get at them will be down both wings as the threat from England’s central areas will be a greater priority for the opposition defence.

Left Back: Leighton Baines- The injury to Ashley Cole in my opinion is a blessing in disguise as it gives the opportunity for in form Leighton Baines to prove his worth in the England set up. Even though Cole has been a great servant to the national side, I believe Baines has now over taken him in the pecking order and with his crossing ability and set piece expertise he will pose a greater threat to the Montenegro side.

Central Defence: Phil Jagielka + Gary Cahill- Many England fans have doubted this central defensive partnership due to Gary Cahill’s distinct lack of first team football, however the performance of these two players in the battling away draw with Ukraine underlines the fact that they are the most solid defensive partnership we have in this country at the moment. This is  taking into account the international exile of Chelsea defender John Terry, who would most certainly be one of the first names on the team sheet had it not been for his recent indiscretion. In Phil Jagielka England have the John Terry style defender every good international side needs, the kind of defender who is not afraid to put his body on the line for his team mates. These attributes combined with Cahill’s technical ability and distinct set piece threat seem to provide a solid yet combative partnership.

Central Midfield: Steven Gerrard + Jack Wilshere- A lot of people will see this central combination as a surprise due to the seeming dip of form by Arsenal midfielder Jack Wilshere and the distinct threat of Frank Lampard however I believe this criticism to be unjustified. Wilshere has played out of position on numerous occasions this season, playing in the wider areas of  a three man attacking midfield and it does not take a rocket scientist to realize that this is not his most effective role in the team. Wilshere’s strengths lie in his ability to break up the play and provide excellent service to the attacking players within the side therefore by playing him alongside Steven Gerrard in the centre of midfield you have a serious attacking threat with both long and short range passing ability at a premium. In my opinion we have seen Frank Lampard and Steven Gerrard play alongside each other in the England midfield for too long without any distinctive joy and a change in this area is needed. If a goal is required late on in the match, who better to introduce than a predatory finishing midfielder like Lampard.

Left Attacking Midfielder: Danny Welbeck- Had Arsenal striker Theo Walcott been fit this selection would not be apparent, however in his absence I cannot see a better wide option at England’s disposal. Welbeck has been one of the more consistent performers for England in the past year and his absence in the Ukraine seemed to really affect England going forward. His electric pace and new found calmness in front of goal will pose a threat to the Montenegro defensive line. As well as this the fact that he is right footed will enable him to cut inside frequently exposing gaps for Kyle Walker to penetrate.

Right Attacking Midfielder: Andros Townsend- If the England team is selected on form and not the usual second name basis then Andros Townsend is one of the first names on the team sheet. He has been a revelation for Tottenham this season, going part of the way to sealing the gap Gareth Bale’s departure left behind. His pace, power and crossing ability will be another layer in the England attacking armoury. As well as this, just like on the opposite wing, it will allow space for Everton left back Leighton Baines to overlap and provide quality service for the England strikers.

Central Attacking Midfield: Wayne Rooney- Since the Wayne Rooney summer transfer saga has came to a conclusion he has seemingly got the bit between his teeth. A string of impressive performances in a Man United shirt have given England fans hope that he may just be back to his best. His long range shooting combined with his creativity and vision make Rooney the perfect candidate to play in the hole behind the striker. Many have called for him to be played as the lone striker however I believe he can bring more to the team in an attacking midfield position leaving space for a striker with more pace to flourish.

Centre Forward: Daniel Sturridge- When Daniel Sturridge moved to Liverpool it was deemed by many as his last chance to prove himself at a top English club. His previous spells with Manchester City and Chelsea consisted of restricted playing time and being outshone by more proven strikers, causing any playing time he did receive to be from wider areas of the pitch. Since he moved to Liverpool he seems like a player reborn, with a combination of pace, trickery and a razor sharp eye for goal causing him to be the catalyst for Liverpool’s revival this season. On form there is no better option than Daniel Sturridge and a combination with another in form player in Wayne Rooney could have England fans purring.

Overall I believe this is the best possible team to face Montenegro at Wembley and hopefully the players will be successful in their quest for qualification to the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.

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