World Cup Qualifier England v Ukraine

England resume their world cup qualifying campaign on April 1st against Ukraine in brand new shirts. Apart from a wild guess that the new home shirt will be mostly white and the change shirt will be mostly red, that’s a topic for another day, so let’s take a quick look at the situation in Group Six.

With a five point lead over both Croatia (who we’ve already beaten) and Ukraine (in third at present having only played three games), there’s a strong possibility England could be the first European team to qualify for South Africa 2010 and despite the recent defeat in Spain I can’t see any reason to disagree. Yet it’s always worth remembering that there are no medals for being the first to qualify

We’ve got a good record against Ukraine (we’ve won both previous games without conceding a goal but we haven’t played them for almost five years), but having said that, they’re currently on a seven game unbeaten run, they’re pretty tight defensively and they’ve got plenty of decent players – some of whom you may have heard of.

The England squad named for this weekend’s friendly against Slovakia and the qualifier next week contained a couple of mild surprises, one of which seems to have backfired. The only new name in the squad is Leighton Banes of Everton, who I would imagine is seen as a potential squad player for next summer; although there’s no doubt that Ledley King is an international quality player he has a debilitating injury that means he can’t train normally from game to game and it’s not totally clear why Fabio Capello bought him into the squad. On Tuesday afternoon it was announced that King had left camp and was considering his international future, which would be a real shame.

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England Win or Lose?
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England v Slovakia, Saturday March 28th 4pm GMT on Setanta Sports 1
England v Ukraine, Wednesday April 1st 8pm GMT on ITV1

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