Ukraine will look to their Wayne Rooney clone, Roman Zozulya

He might look familiar as England play their crucial World Cup qualifier in Kiev

Wayne Rooney's gashed head means he will miss England's visit to Ukraine, but on the pitch there will at least be one a thickset, balding forward who combines muscularity with technical ability and got sent off against Montenegro. Roman Zozulya has been one of the keys to Ukraine's resurgence this year and he remains in a streak of exceptional form. When he scored twice and was fouled for a penalty in Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk's 3-1 win over Shakhtar Donetsk a fortnight ago, the former Ukraine coach Josef Szabo repeated his assertion that, "We have our own Rooney now."

Although the physical resemblance may not be as clear as Ukrainians make out, there is a similarity of style. Zozulya is an inch taller at 5ft 10in, but both are forwards who are better in the air than their height would suggest. Both are ruggedly physical.

Both can play anywhere across the front line and are happy dropping back to win the ball in midfield. Zozulya is four years younger than Rooney but, more importantly, he will be in the Olimpiskyi on Tuesday night and he is in a fine run of form. The double against Shakhtar was part of a run of five goals in four games for the Kiev-born graduate of the Dynamo youth system.

Against England, Zozulya will presumably play behind the awkward and angular Marko Devic, the striker whose shot crossed the line before John Terry hooked it clear when England beat Ukraine at Euro 2012. He had just moved to Shakhtar then, but never really settled, starting just 12 league games. Since joining Metalist Kharkiv earlier this year, though, the Belgrade-born 29-year-old has produced the best football of his career, rattling in 13 goals in 18 games, including eight in eight this season. So impressive has been his form that Metalist have felt secure enough to loan the forward Jonathan Cristaldo to Bologna.

Devic is likely to be the lone front man, with Zozulya behind him, leading the press on which Ukraine's coach Mykhaylo Fomenko is so insistent. Also key to that are the two hard-working wingers in the 4-2-3-1, Yevhen Konoplyanka and Andriy Yarmolenko. Konoplyanka has just signed up with a new agent, James Lippitt, and, perhaps not coincidentally, was heavily linked with Liverpool in the transfer window. He broke the deadlock when Ukraine beat Moldova in March but was especially impressive against Montenegro, when Ukraine overcame the dismissal of Zozulya with the score at 0-0 to win 4-0. That he is angling for a move to England is no secret. Yarmolenko perhaps hasn't quite reached the levels he hit before the Euros – and to an extent is suffering the general malaise at Dynamo – but his work-rate and willingness to drop back into midfield makes him a vital component of Fomenko's system.

Fomenko's reign so far has been an astonishing success. Ukraine drew their first game in qualifying – against England – at which Oleh Blokhin departed to take over at Dynamo Kiev. Andriy Bal took over as caretaker and took a single point from a game in Moldova and a home fixture against Montenegro. Fomenko, yet another former Valeriy Lobanovskyi player – and then a coach with him at Dynamo, took over with many assuming the campaign was as good as over, but a 3-1 win in Poland restored hope. Victory over San Marino was their fifth in a row and now there is a realistic expectation of taking a play-off spot and perhaps even pipping England to win the group.

In achieving that, of course, Tuesday's game is vital. "Would I settle for a draw with England?" Fomenko asked. "I'll answer that question on October 15." He was at pains, though, to make clear that what happened in Lviv on Friday, when Ukraine peppered the San Marino goal with set-plays and racked up nine goals, has very little bearing on what will happen in Kiev on Tuesday. "We should forget this game as soon as possible and think about England. It's good that no one has been injured. We are already living the game against England and that match [against San Marino] helped us prepare well. They beat Moldova with ease and that means something."

What it means is that qualifying automatically comes down to this game: win and Ukraine, with Poland at home and San Marino away still to play, are in charge of the group; lose, and England are all but home and dry. Draw and Ukraine are left hoping for an England wobble at home to Montenegro or Poland.

Why England should be wary in the Ukraine

Konoplyanka's corners

Of the nine goals Ukraine scored against San Marino on Friday, four came from corners from Yevheniy Konoplyanka, which is how the centre-back Yevhen Khacheridi came to be the only player to score twice.

Olimpiskyi atmosphere

There is belief now among Ukrainian fans that they will qualify for the World Cup for the second time and that should mean that the stadium is packed and rocking.

Devic's revenge

When Ukraine lost to England at the Euros, they were left with a dreadful sense of injustice. Marko Devic's should had clearly crossed the line before John Terry cleared it. That Devic had been offside but hadn't been flagged has been conveniently overlooked in the bid to set the record straight.

A sense of momentum

After Shevchenko, after Blokhin, this is a young Ukraine side, playing largely without pressure but, having won four in a row, with a tremendous sense that things are swinging their way.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
Leah Devine is only the ninth female to have made the Young Magician of the Year final since the contest began more than 50 years
peopleMeet the 16-year-old who has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year
News
Jonathan Anderson was born in Northern Ireland but now based between London, where he presents a line named JW Anderson
peopleBritish designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
News
Andy Davidhazy at the beginning (left) and end (right) of his hike
video
News
Taylor Swift is applying to trademark song lyrics from 1989
people
Voices
The popularity of TV shows such as The Liver Birds encouraged Liverpudlians to exaggerate their Scouse accent
voicesWe exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

The only direction Zayn could go

We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

Spells like teen spirit

A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

Licence to offend in the land of the free

Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

From farm to fork in Cornwall

One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
Robert Parker interview: The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes

Robert Parker interview

The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes
Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor
How to make your own Easter egg: Willie Harcourt-Cooze shares his chocolate recipes

How to make your own Easter egg

Willie Harcourt-Cooze talks about his love affair with 'cacao' - and creates an Easter egg especially for The Independent on Sunday
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef declares barbecue season open with his twist on a tradtional Easter Sunday lamb lunch

Bill Granger's twist on Easter Sunday lunch

Next weekend, our chef plans to return to his Aussie roots by firing up the barbecue
Joe Marler: 'It's the way I think the game should be played'

Joe Marler: 'It's the way I think the game should be played'

The England prop relives the highs and lows of last Saturday's remarkable afternoon of Six Nations rugby
Cricket World Cup 2015: Has the success of the tournament spelt the end for Test matches?

Cricket World Cup 2015

Has the success of the tournament spelt the end for Test matches?
The Last Word: Justin Gatlin knows the price of everything, the value of nothing

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Justin Gatlin knows the price of everything, the value of nothing