Townsend expected to keep place for England
Manager Roy Hodgson is expected to retain exciting new winger Andros Townsend and make one enforced team change when England seek to beat Poland on Tuesday and seal their passage to the World Cup finals.
Townsend, 22, of Tottenham Hotspur, made a goal-scoring debut for England on Friday when his pace and trickery inspired them to a 4-1 victory against Montenegro at Wembley.
That win confirmed at least a play-off place for Hodgson’s team who must beat already eliminated Poland to top Group H and qualify automatically for next year’s finals in Brazil.
England will be forced to make one change as Townsend’s club mate, right back Kyle Walker, is suspended after picking up a second yellow card of the qualifying campaign against Montenegro.
His place is likely to go to Phil Jones while left back Leighton Baines is expected to continue deputising for Ashley Cole, ruled out with a rib injury after also missing the Montenegro match.
Hodgson may also recall utility player James Milner to add some defensive grit, in place of Danny Welbeck, as England prepares to cope with Poland’s counter-attacking potential.
“They are strong and very well organised and in Robert Lewandowski and Jakub Blaszczykowski they have two top-class players,” said Hodgson.
“We will prepare for the best Poland can be, and if we are lucky, and they decide to stroll through, so be it.”
Poland’s bid to qualify ended when they were beaten 1-0 by Ukraine on Friday after which striker Lewandowski said Poland had deserved better.
“We played very well,” he said. “There was not a lot wrong with that performance and, although we lost, there was a lot to be pleased about. If we play that way again on Tuesday, it will not be easy for England.”
Poland will be without injured defender Lukasz Piszczek, but Coach Waldemar Fornalik, probably in charge for the last time, said he is more concerned about scoring goals.
He said: “I am thinking of the points and a win. Nothing else will do in any match.”
Hodgson added that, after beating Montenegro, he had warned against any complacency.
“We must make sure we complete it against Poland and I am sure we will,” he said.
“Even though they are out of the running and have nothing to play for, I can’t imagine they will take their foot off the pedal.
“I think they’ll come here and try to win the game and get another good result like in 1973.”
His reference to 1973 was a reminder of a 1-1 draw at Wembley on October 17 that year, a result that sealed Poland’s passage to the 1974 finals, where they finished third, and ended England’s qualifying campaign.
Asked what he remembered of that night, Hodgson told reporters: “Nothing, I didn’t watch it, I was coaching in South Africa and there was no telly there then.”
His dismissal of a much-hyped ‘nightmare’ that has ‘haunted English football for 40 years’ put it in context. In reality, England, who have won their last six home matches against the Poles, should extend that run and qualify.