It’s make-or-break time for England when they welcome Montenegro to Wembley on Friday evening in their penultimate World Cup 2014 qualifier. Roy Hodgson’s men currently lead the way in Group H, but with both Ukraine and Montenegro only one point behind, England know that anything but a win on Friday could really damage their chances of securing an automatic qualification spot.
The good news for England fans is that Wayne Rooney returns after missing out on the qualifiers against Moldova and Ukraine with a head wound. Rooney currently tops Group H’s scoring charts with five goals, and is a tempting 7/2 with Coral to opening the scoring against Montenegro and 10/11 to score at any point during the game.
In-form Liverpool striker Daniel Sturridge also returns for England and could start up front alongside Rooney. The 24-year-old is currently the Premier League’s top scorer with six goals from the first seven matches. Coral quote evens for Sturridge to score in 90 minutes and 5/1 he scores two or more goals in the match.
Heading into the match, England are fully expected to secure maximum points and that is reflected in the odds. The Three Lions are a short 4/11 to come away from Wembley victorious (8/1 if you fancy Montenegro to win), but they will have to do it without the services of stalwart left-back Ashley Cole. Leighton Baines is set to replace Cole in the starting line-up. Baines played a pivotal role in England’s 5-0 win over Moldova last year, and the Everton player can make a big impact again. 6/1 is quoted for Baines to score direct from a free kick.
Looking at the head-to-head results between these two sides there’s nothing to choose between them, with all three previous matches ending in a draw. England go into the match off the back of an eight-match unbeaten run, whilst Montenegro haven’t won a competitive game since beating Moldova at the end of March.
So, will England raise their game and take one giant step further to reaching the World Cup finals in Brazil or will Roy Hodgson’s men make us all sweat and leave it to their final fixture against Poland next Tuesday? To find out, watch the match live on ITV and online on Friday 11th October at 7.30pm.