After their stroll in the park victory over San Marino, England get set for what promises to be one of the toughest fixtures of their World Cup qualifying campaign with a trip to Warsaw to take on Poland.
England’s contest with the international minnows on Friday, as expected, proved to be little more than a training exercise as Roy Hodgson’s side ran out 5-0 winners. While it is difficult to read anything into such an encounter, there will likely have been some disappointment that the first goal did not arrive until the 35th minute and that it wasn’t until late in the second-half that the goals started to flow.
It will be a very different match on Tuesday, with much of the emphasis sure to be on Poland to get a positive result. Waldemar Fornalik was appointed Poland coach after predecessor Franciszek Smuda’s failure to lead his side out of the group stage of Euro 2012 as co-hosts. And the 49-year-old, former Ruch Chorzow manager has already seen his team drop two potentially vital points with a 2-2 draw away in Montenegro to being their qualifying campaign.
Looking to at least secure a playoff spot in a group also featuring Ukraine, a defeat at home to England would be a bitter blow and Fornalik has claimed he will be sending his side out to get a win.
His opposite number is set to ring the changes from the side that defeated San Marino. Steven Gerrard will regain the captaincy, while right back Glen Johnson should also be included after both served their suspensions. Joleon Lescott, James Milner and Jermain Defoe are also expected to return after been left out at Wembley to avoid the risk of picking up a yellow card that would have seen them suspended for the meeting with Poland. Despite the recent form of Leighton Baines, both for club and country, Ashley Cole should win his 99th cap from the start.
Of those set to drop out, Danny Welbeck may feel the harshest done by, having scored twice against San Marino. Theo Walcott’s absence is enforced, with the winger having suffered a bruised lung following a nasty challenge from San Marino goalkeeper Aldo Simoncini.
Poland have their own injury problems with captain Jakub Blaszczykowski suffering an ankle injury with Borussia Dortmund just over a week ago. Arsenal goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny is also still out with a foot injury.
D: Piszczek, Gilk, Wasilewski, Wawrzyniak
M: Polanski, Krychowiak
Mierzejewski, Obraniak, Grosicki
D: Johnson, Jagielka, Lescott, Cole
M: Gerrard, Carrick
Milner, Rooney, Oxlade-Chamberlain
Prediction: The loss of Blaszczykowski is a significant one for Poland and they struggled without him in a 1-0 friendly victory over South Africa on Friday. The missing creativity from the Polish captain is one of the reasons why this match is unlikely to feature many goals. England should perhaps go to Poland confident of getting a victory, although Hodgson’s cautious nature may mean that they ultimately settle for a draw.
Poland 0-0 England
Where to watch: The World Cup qualifier kicks-off from the Warsaw National Stadium in Poland at 3 p.m. ET. A live stream will be available via ESPN3.
Sports reporter, mainly focusing on my native sport of soccer, but also dabbling in some tennis and Formula One.