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World Cup previews: Hodgson sees Ukraine as a threat to England’s World Cup hopes

by Sean Goff | March 24, 2013
Roy Hodgson

ROY’S THE BOY: Hodgson expected to get England to Brazil with little fuss (pic: Inpho)

Football | World Cup 2014 qualifiers

England manager Roy Hodgson insists that Ukraine are still a threat to England’s World Cup qualification campaign.

The Three Lions play Montenegro in Podgorica on Tuesday night (8pm) and look to be in the driving seat in Group H with three home games still to come from their five remaining games.

But the Ukraine sit third after a 3-1 win over Poland in Warsaw on Friday and England must face them away on September 10th.

I would certainly put the Ukraine up there as one of the serious rivals, especially on the basis of what we saw in the Euros and what they did when they came to Wembley.

I always thought it was going to be a bit of a dog fight between some of these teams. Montenegro have stolen a march but I don’t really dismiss the others.

England have no injury worries ahead of Tuesday night’s encounter where Steven Gerrard could return to the starting 11. Hodgson also revealed that he would not be asking Chelsea’s John Terry to come out of retirement despite being light on options at centre back.

Where do we stop? Should Michael Owen come out of retirement every time we can’t score a goal? Let’s stick really to the guys playing regularly every week.

Giovanni Trapattoni

NO LOSE: : Trap won’t want any slip-ups against the Austrians (pic: Inpho)

The Republic of Ireland’s 0-0 draw with Sweden gives them a fighting chance of taking second place and a win against Austria at home on Tuesday would see them leapfrog their two main rivals into second behind likely Group C winners Germany.

Captain Robbie Keane has been ruled out with a calf strain so Wolves striker Kevin Doyle – dropped by text last week – has been called into the squad.

Manager Giovanni Trapattoni must decide whether to stick with most of the players that served him so well last Friday night – or revert to type and try to avoid defeat with a defensive formation.

Wales entertain Croatia – in the broadest sense of the word – at the Millenium Stadium without the suspended Aaron Ramsey after he was sent off in the 2-1 win against Scotland. Manager Chris Coleman insists that Gareth Bale – withdrawn at half time at Hampden Park with an injured ankle – will not be risked if he’s not fit to play.

Scotland travel to Serbia as new manager Gordon Strachan looks for his first points in his second competitive game in charge but Steven Fletcher faces six weeks on the sidelines after being stretchered off after just four minutes against Wales last Friday.

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