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England face strikers crisis

08 September 2013, 16:01

London - England have only one fully fit striker remaining for Tuesday's vital World Cup qualifying clash away to Ukraine after Daniel Sturridge was ruled out with a thigh injury.

Southampton's Rickie Lambert, the former beetroot factory worker who made his England debut last month, will start only his second game for England, looking to build on a remarkable start to his international career that has seen him score in both his matches so far.

Sturridge missed Friday's 4-0 win over Moldova after aggravating a thigh injury in Liverpool's victory over Manchester United last weekend. It had been hoped he would have recovered sufficiently for him to report back for duty on Saturday evening but the Football Association confirmed that had not happened.

"Club England medical staff have been in constant contact with their counterparts at Liverpool Football Club since he returned there on Thursday, his injury has not progressed as had been hoped and it is now clear that Sturridge will not be fit for the match in Kiev on Tuesday evening," said an FA statement.

Wayne Rooney had already been ruled out with a gashed head, while his Manchester United team-mate Danny Welbeck, who scored twice against Moldova, is suspended after being harshly booked for kicking the ball away.

"We're going to miss him," captain Steven Gerrard said of Welbeck. "He's a big player for us now and you have seen his performance after getting the yellow card, going on and getting a couple of goals and he played really well.

"He will be missed on Tuesday, even more so because of the injuries we've got, but we have to take it on the chin and roll our sleeves up and take the responsibility."

Jermain Defoe is in the squad and could play a part on Tuesday, but he is lacking match sharpness after a lack of playing time at Tottenham Hotspur this season.

Manager Roy Hodgson has hinted that Lambert will retain his place at the centre of a three-man forward line, with James Milner coming in on the left.

England top the group on goal difference from Montenegro but have only a point more than Ukraine, who still have San Marino to play.

A draw would suit England but manager Roy Hodgson insisted his side would not play for a point. "We don't really do that," he said.

"We try very hard, as naive and simplistic as it sounds, to make certain our defending is spot on against whatever team we play, whether it is Brazil or San Marino. But when we get the ball we try to attack. We don't hold our full-backs back if it is Ukraine when we would be pushing them forward against San Marino.

"Our style of play, which is well ingrained with the players, is based on both attacking and defending. We don't tend to set out to just defend."



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