England vs. Moldova: Players Who Are Under Pressure to Perform at Wembley
Playing international football for any country, regardless of pedigree or reputation, will always bring with it an incredible amount of pressure to perform.
Forever lurking in the shadow of their past achievements, that burden almost seems to be multiplied for Roy Hodgson’s England.
With the opportunity to take top spot in UEFA qualification’s Group H this week, the Three Lions resume their hopes of making it to Brazil with a home fixture against Moldova.
Thursday evening saw Sky Sports announce the team that would line up at Wembley:
England team to play Moldova: Hart, Walker, Cahill, Jagielka, Cole, Gerrard (c), Lampard, Wilshere, Walcott, Welbeck, Lambert #SSN— Sky Sports News (@SkySportsNews) September 5, 2013
While Friday’s visitors may not be the most threatening opposition the English will face this week, there are those in Hodgson’s line-up who have more reason to perform than others.
With Daniel Sturridge succumbing to a muscle strain and Wayne Rooney out with a head injury, Rickie Lambert has been given the nod to deputise in attack against Moldova.
Only three weeks ago was the Southampton striker given his first England cap at the age of 31, but a first international start is the obvious next step in his development.
Despite managing to score 15 Premier League goals last season, there remains an air of doubt around Lambert and whether he’s any form of long-term solution to England’s attacking woes.
Hodgson’s lack of attacking options has come under immense scrutiny, and journeyman Lambert will have a whole nation praying that he’s the missing link.
In recent weeks, Joe Hart has come under mounting pressure to perform on both the club and international level following a series of early-season blunders.
Luckily for the Manchester City stopper, West Brom’s in-form 'keeper Ben Foster is unavailable through injury, otherwise he may have found himself dropped for the coming encounter.
EPL Index has pointed out just how the three-time Golden Glove winner’s form is currently suffering:
With the likes of John Ruddy and Fraser Forster waiting to pounce should the No. 1 jersey come up for grabs, Hart needs a staunch performance as much as any other in order to prove his doubters wrong.
Having said that, Moldova aren’t going to be the biggest attacking threat Hart faces over the next week.
For the good of his international and club career, Jack Wilshere faces a vital next few months in which he’ll be expected to deliver on his potential.
For some time now, the 21-year-old has been looked at as the darling of England and Arsenal football, but he is now coming to a stage where lack of experience only counts for so much.
The youngster has looked impressive for the Gunners so far in the Premier League campaign, but must now begin to offer something more, especially considering he's largely looked at as a long-term successor to the likes of Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard.
Both of those veterans have a very credible attacking threat to their game while Wilshere is yet to net for his country, showing an area where the youngster may seek to improve.
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