San Marino v England: World Cup Qualifier Match Preview

22 March 2013 02:44

Roy Hodgson has suffered a defensive crisis prior to England's World Cup qualifiying games this week.

With John Terry retired, Rio Ferdinand withdrawing, Gary Cahill and Michael Dawson out injured, Hodgson has just Steven Caulker, Steven Taylor, Chris Smalling and Joleon Lescott to choose from. Caulker, Taylor and Smalling have just give international caps between them, whilst Joleon Lescott can't get a game at Manchester City this season.

Smalling and Lescott would be the ideal pairing, although both players have just started 14 Premier League games this season. Taylor and Caulker have been playing more regurarly for their respected sides, but have just 74minutes of international experience.

Taylor trained with the England squad on Tuesday at their St George’s Park base but Steven Gerrard, Ashley Young and Kyle Walker missed the morning session and instead worked in the gym. All three are expected to be available on Friday when Hodgson must also chose between Leighton Baines and Ashley Cole at left-back.

Although Lescott has struggled recently to command a regular place in the Manchester City side, James Milner is adamant that his club team-mate can help England to take charge of their World Cup qualifying group over the next week.

England ran out 5-0 victors the last time these two sides played. Wayne Rooney opened the scoring with a 35th minute penalty. Danny Welbeck scored two either side of another Wayne Rooney goal, before Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain finished the rout with a 77th minute goal.

England have played San Marino twice before and won both games. The first a 6-0 win at Wembley in February 1993 followed by a 7-1 win in November 1993. In the 7-1 win, San Marino took the lead on 8.3 seconds through Davide Gualtieri, still the fastest ever goal in Fifa World Cup history.

England currently trail group leaders Montenegro by 2 points – and will play them on the 26th of March.

Predicted England Line Up: -

Joe Hart; Glen Johnson, Chris Smalling, Joleon Lescott, Ashley Cole; Theo Walcott, Tom Cleverley, Steven Gerrard, James Milner; Wayne Rooney, Danny Welbeck.

Source: DSG