Roy Hodgson looks set to tinker with his winning England team with Manchester United midfielder Michael Carrick reportedly set to replace Frank Lampard in the starting line-up for their crucial World Cup qualifier against Poland.
England need to win at Wembley to ensure their progression to next summer’s tournament in Brazil, and Hodgson has so far been coy on his selection for the final Group H fixture.
However, Carrick – who has not started for England since the 2-2 international friendly draw with Brazil in June – trained alongside captain Steven Gerrard, and having considered starting with the 32-year-old earlier in the week, reports suggest the United midfielder has done enough to earn a recall.
The selection would see Hodgson stick with his preferred 4-2-3-1 formation, and he is also expected to name Friday’s hero Andros Townsend on the right wing, with the Tottenham midfielder coming through training without any issues having picked up a knock in the 4-1 win over Montenegro.
Carrick’s inclusion would bring a stronger passing game to the side, with the England coaching staff impressed with Carrick’s stats in the recent victory over Sunderland 10 days ago. Carrick made 127 passes in the match – more than both Gerrard and Lampard who were up against Crystal Palace and Norwich respectively – and double Jack Wilshere’s 60 passes against West Brom.
The Arsenal midfielder is expected to have to make do with a place among the replacements once more, having been dropped for Friday night’s encounter. Carrick replaced Lampard in that match after 65 minutes, with Wilshere also coming on to replace Townsend once the Spurs winger had made his impact on the game, scoring the Three Lions third goal from long range.
It also appears that Hodgson has elected to start with Chris Smalling at right-back, after Kyle Walker was ruled out of the final group game through suspension having picked up a yellow card against the Montenegrins. Smalling had been up against his United team-mate Phil Jones for the spot, and seems to have done enough to start alongside regulars Phil Jagielka and Gary Cahill.
Leighton Baines will continue at left-back with Ashley Cole unavailable through a rib injury, while the attacking combination of Wayne Rooney, Danny Welbeck and Daniel Sturridge will continue along with Townsend.