Picking the Best England XI to Take Down Montenegro

Max TowleAnalyst IMarch 23, 2013

SERRAVALLE, SAN MARINO - MARCH 22:  Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain of England celebrates his goal with Tom Cleverley (R) during the FIFA 2014 World Cup Qualifier Group H match between San Marino and England at Serravalle Stadium on March 22, 2013 in Serravalle, San Marino.  (Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)
Mike Hewitt/Getty Images

England's clash with San Marino on Friday night may not have provided Roy Hodgson's men with much of a challenge, but the 8-0 win showed that they are in a positive frame of mind heading into their upcoming clash with Montenegro.

Their opponents on Tuesday currently lead Group 8 by two points, having dispatched with Moldova, 1-0, on Friday.

The fixture is by far the most important that the Three Lions have faced since their exit from Euro 2012, and one which they cannot afford to lose.

The team that Hodgson sent out to face San Marino gave plenty of clues as to who he intends to play against Montenegro.

Steven Gerrard, Ashley Cole, James Milner and Glen Johnson were all rested and could be in contention to return.

This article will seek to predict Roy Hodgson's England lineup for Tuesday night.



Manchester City's Joe Hart is almost certain to start in goal.

If Hodgson refused to give either Ben Foster or Fraser Forster rare playing time against San Marino, he is unlikely to include either in the more important fixture of the two.

Despite not even making the bench on Friday, Liverpool's Glen Johnson should be preferred to Kyle Walker.

Tottenham's right-back has been in excellent form this season but wont be asked to play twice in three days.

With the central defence currently going through a semi-injury crisis and with Rio Ferdinand's controversial withdrawal from the team last week, Hodgson has been left with few options in the position.

Chris Smalling partnered with Joleon Lescott in the middle against San Marino, but if Gary Cahill returns to fitness before Tuesday, he is likely to replace the former.

The two will have to be in top form to stop the prolific threat of Mirko Vucinic and Stevan Jovetic.

Of course, some have suggested that Michael Carrick could start in central defence, as he has done on occasion for Manchester United, but with at least two natural central defenders fit, this would make little sense.

At left-back, Leighton Baines should make way for Chelsea's Ashley Cole.

The two will continue their battle to be England's first choice in the position right up until the 2014 World Cup, and with little separating them, it will certainly be a hard-fought one.



Frank Lampard has been in impressive form this season for Chelsea and was a deserved scorer for England on Friday, but he may be withdrawn for Steven Gerrard against Montenegro.

The Liverpool man will be key in distributing the ball to the wide men in his favoured, deeper-lying midfield role.

His partner in the middle could very well be Michael Carrick, who, under Hodgson, has seen his stock dramatically increase for the Three Lions.

In this scenario, his Manchester United teammate, Tom Cleverley, could very well be one of the players sacrificed.

England's use of the flanks against Montenegro will be key on Tuesday night, placing a great deal of pressure on those who Hodgson selects as his wingers.

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain was terrific against San Marino, despite the inadequacies of his opponents, and could earn a surprising berth in the side ahead of James Milner and the injured Theo Walcott.

The Manchester City man has been a long-time favourite of the England boss, but young Oxlade-Chamberlain is clearly a better option in the long term.

Ashley Young will be an automatic name on the team sheet to start on the left side of midfield.

He has had a mostly down season for the Red Devils but has little in the way of competitors for his position in the squad.



Wayne Rooney will play for England on Tuesday—this much is certain.

His exquisite free kick was a real highlight against San Marino, taking his career international goal tally to 34.

He'll lineup behind either Jermain Defoe or Danny Welbeck—my guess is the latter.

While being nowhere near the clinical finisher that Defoe is, the Manchester United striker's excellent work ethic and graft has earned him Hodgson's trust in big games.

Daniel Sturridge scored his first ever international goal against San Marino but is unlikely to get much, if any, playing time in the Podgorica City Stadium.


There's my prediction for who Roy Hodgson will select to face Montenegro. What do you think?