Poland vs. England: Stars Who Will Shine for Three Lions in World Cup Qualifier

Tim DanielsFeatured ColumnistOctober 16, 2012

WARSAW, POLAND - OCTOBER 15:  England manager Roy Hodgson speaks to the media as Steven Gerrard looks on during the England press conference ahead of their FIFA World Cup qualifier against Poland at the National Stadium on October 15, 2012 in Warsaw, Poland.  (Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)
Michael Regan/Getty Images

England can take another step toward establishing its dominance in Group H of UEFA World Cup qualifying with a road victory over Poland on Tuesday. The Three Lions currently lead the way with seven points. Poland is three points behind with a game in hand.

The talented English side is coming off an easy 5-0 triumph over San Marino, but should expect a much more competitive battle from the White Eagles. They defeated South Africa in a friendly last week to build up some momentum.

Here are three players who will have to lead the way for England to earn all three points.


Wayne Rooney

Rooney was given the honor of captaining the Three Lions against San Marino and responded with two goals. He's been in terrific form ever since returning from a leg injury, and Roy Hodgson hopes it will continue against Poland.

The 26-year-old superstar has been used in more of a midfield playmaking role for both Manchester United and England since the new season began, giving him a chance to be on the ball more often and he's responded with some of the most complete play of his career.

He'll once again serve as the focal point of the Three Lions' attack on Tuesday. He won't find as much room to operate, however, as the White Eagles defense has only allowed more than one goal once all year. Rooney will need to get creative.


Steven Gerrard

After serving his suspension, Gerrard should return to his usual role in the England midfield while also regaining the armband from Rooney. It will mark his 99th appearance for the national club, putting him one away from the coveted milestone.

The veteran's role will be to help the Three Lions dominate possession, limiting the amount of chances Poland has to counterattack. White Eagles striker Robert Lewandowski is deadly in those situations, and he's capable of changing the match in a heartbeat.

Having two reliable midfielders like Gerrard and Michael Carrick, who will control the pace, is a big advantage for England. It should be a seamless transition back into the lineup for the captain.


Phil Jagielka

Jagielka's main task on Tuesday will be shutting down Lewandowski. He's the one player with the ability to make life extremely difficult on the Three Lions. If Jagielka and his back-line mates can keep him under control, England should be in great shape.

He's played a huge role in Everton's surprising start, earning him another opportunity to impress Hodgson and the 30-year-old centre-back has done exactly that. Even though he isn't flashy, he always finds a way to get the job done.

The return of Glen Johnson on the outside should help Jagielka narrow his focus in the middle, mostly on Lewandowski. It's his chance to prove he deserves the starting spot as the matches become increasingly important during the current cycle.