Oct 12, 2013, 11:30 AM EDT
England beat Montenegro 4-1 to stay top of their group last night, but face a must-win match against Poland on Tuesday night. Ukraine, sitting just a point behind in second, face San Marino in the last round. San Marino have yet to pick up a point in qualification, have scored just one goal and have a -45 goal difference. A Ukraine win is as near to a certainty as you can get in sports. Therefore, England must pick up all three points against Poland if they wish to avoid the playoff round.
With such high stakes surrounding the match, Roy Hodgson is taking no chances, ensuring that he has a complete squad of fit and healthy players. As such, the England manager has called up Liverpool winger Raheem Sterling to replace Tom Cleverly. The Manchester United player injured his calf in training on Thursday.
Sterling has played in six of Liverpool’s seven league matches this season, but started just once, in the last round against Crystal Palace. He’s yet to earn a senior cap for his country, but was included in the squad that faced Moldova and Ukraine in September. Now, the 18 year old is being drafted from the England U21 side, which beat San Marino 4-0 on Thursday in Euro 2015 qualifiers.
Expect another call up from Hodgson as well, with Kyle Walker being booked against Montenegro, thus earning himself a suspension for the final match. It will likely be either Phil Jones or Chris Smalling that will replace the Tottenham Hotspur defender.
- FIFA ethics committee bans 11 current, former officials from all football-related activities 3
- UEFA calls for postponement of FIFA presidential election, threatens to boycott congress 5
- FIFA president Sepp Blatter releases first statement since overnight arrests 11
- Three things we learned from the US Department of Justice news conference on the FIFA investigation 6
- FIFA presidential elections will go on Friday despite arrests 6
- FBI, US Department of Justice issues damning statement on FIFA, details corruption investigation 8