England hoping to cement top spot in group six (Preview)October 13th, 2008 - 8:00 pm ICT by IANS
Minsk, Oct 13 (DPA) England will be hoping to take another step towards automatic qualification for the 2010 World Cup by winning away over Belarus Wednesday.Fabio Capello’s are sitting pretty at the top of group six, with three wins out of three after Saturday’s 5-1 win over Kazakhstan at Wembley.
Victory over Belarus will go a long way to securing their place in South Africa in two years’ time, but Capello has warned against any complacency when they face Belarus, who are a talented side, especially at home.
“They are not conservative,” Capello said. “They play very well. Their style is like Arsenal. They touch the ball a lot. It is not going to be an easy game. I have seen Belarus three times. They are a dangerous side.”
Capello will wait on the fitness of his captain, John Terry, before finalizing his side for the match in Minsk, with the Chelsea striker still struggling to shake off the back injury that saw him miss the win over Kazakhstan.
Should Terry not make it, West Ham’s Matthew Upson is likely to continue to deputize alongside stand-in captain Rio Ferdinand at the centre of defence.
Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard, who improved after England reverted from 4-3-3 to a 4-4-2 formation at half-time Saturday, look set to continue their partnership in the centre of midfield.
“Gerrard and Lampard did well but their starting positions weren’t perfect,” Capello said of the Kazakhstan match.
“This was the case for five or six minutes in the second half - not only in the first - and we had to make a change and then they were in good positions.
“They have played better but it is important for them to be together in midfield.”
Gareth Barry was sacrificed at half-time Saturday to change the shape of the side, and Capello said he had yet to decide how to line up against Belarus.
“I have time to decide whether to play a holding midfielder in Belarus,” he said. “First we have to wait and see whether John Terry will play, then we will decide about the midfield.”
Belarus, meanwhile, with three points from their first two games, have been talking up their chances of causing an upset Wednesday.
Having beaten Holland in a Euro 2008 qualifier last year, their confidence is up and striker Vitaly Bulyga believes they have a live chance, especially as they beat England in a friendly international in 2006.
“We beat you before and we’ll beat you again,” he said.
“We are growing and we are not afraid of anybody. If England predict an easy victory I don’t care, it is not my problem.
“I know and believe that miracles happen frequently. We are growing step by step and we are going to become a power in European football. We hope we can do it quickly. Our coach is telling us we can beat England. Russia proved last year how to beat England at home.
“It’s a good example for us. We are confident. Everybody knows that it’s a very important game for us.”
Belarus, will, though, be without their best player as former Arsenal forward Alexander Hleb is nursing an ankle injury.