Who should start for England against Montenegro?

Sports Mole selects the players who we feel should start for England against Montenegro on Friday night.

The equation is simple as far as England are concerned. If they take maximum points from upcoming encounters against Montenegro and Poland, then their place at next year's World Cup in Brazil will be confirmed.

However, in Friday night's opponents Montenegro, they take on a nation that they have not been able to defeat in the three meetings between the two teams.

With a victory crucial for Roy Hodgson's men, Sports Mole has selected a starting lineup that we believe would provide the Three Lions with the best chance of claiming a positive result.


Hart of Manchester City looks on during the Barclays Premier League match between Manchester City and Norwich City at Etihad Stadium on May 19, 2013© Getty Images
Joe Hart
The Manchester City goalkeeper has probably endured the toughest spell of his career in recent weeks. It all came to a head during last week's Champions League clash against Bayern Munich where Hart made two errors in the 3-1 loss. Some have called for Hodgson to give either John Ruddy or Fraser Forster an opportunity to prove their worth, but changing a goalkeeper so late in the qualification stage carries a big risk. Just ask Steve McClaren, who switched from Paul Robinson to Scott Carson with disastrous consequences in 2007. England lost 3-2 to Croatia and subsequently missed out on a place at Euro 2008.

Kyle Walker in action for England against Moldova in a World Cup qualifier at Wembley on September 6, 2013© Getty Images
Kyle Walker
Glen Johnson's injury has made Tottenham Hotspur right-back Walker a shoo-in for these last two qualifiers, even though both Phil Jones and Chris Smalling can operate in that position. The 23-year-old has had his defensive abilities criticised over the last 12 months or so, but he showed last time out for England in Ukraine that he is more than capable of keeping things tight. Against Montenegro, England are likely to have the lion's share of possession and Walker has displayed throughout his career that he is comfortable on the ball.

Phil Jones of Manchester United in action during the FA Community Shield match between Manchester United and Wigan Athletic at Wembley Stadium on August 11, 2013© Getty Images
Phil Jones
Since the retirements of Rio Ferdinand and John Terry, Gary Cahill has partnered Phil Jagielka at the heart of the England defence. There is no disputing that the pair have formed a solid understanding, but they do lack mobility - highlighted by Kenny Miller's goal at Wembley in August. There is no such issue for Manchester United's Jones, who was given a run-out in his more natural centre-back position against Sunderland at the weekend. He showed great pace when having lost out to Craig Gardner, he was able to retreat and clear the danger. What's more, he is better in possession of the ball than both Cahill and Jagielka.

Phil Jagielka of Everton clears the ball during the Barclays Premier League match between Everton and West Bromwich Albion at Goodison Park on August 24, 2013 © Getty Images
Phil Jagielka
With Jones in, the Cahill-Jagielka partnership has to be terminated. In terms of match sharpness, Jagielka gets the nod. He has featured in all of Everton's Premier League fixtures this term, while in recent encounters Cahill has been dropped down to the Chelsea bench by manager Jose Mourinho, who has preferred to select David Luiz alongside Terry. It may seem harsh, but with Juventus's Mirko Vucinic likely to lead the attack for the away side, the England defence will need to be on the top of their game.

West Brom's Shane Long and Everton's Leighton Baines battle for the ball on August 24, 2013© Getty Images
Leighton Baines
The left-back position was perhaps Hodgson's toughest call - that was until a rib injury forced Ashley Cole to withdraw from the squad. It means that Baines will start, but he could well have been the first choice anyway. There is little to split Cole and Baines defensively, but there can be no denying that the Everton defender provides much more offensively. Not only does Baines create chances, he can also convert them. He is also a set-piece specialist and we all know how vital that can be at this stage - David Beckham against Greece anyone?

Michael Carrick of Manchester United in action during the Rio Ferdinand Testimonial Match between Manchester United and Sevilla at Old Trafford on August 9, 2013© Getty Images
Michael Carrick
The Man United midfielder is not going to win a match on his own. He's not going to find the back of the net from 35 yards out or relieve pressure by beating four members of the opposition. What he can do, though, arguably better than any other English midfielder, is retain possession of the ball. It was a quality that England lacked severely against Ukraine, which drew criticism from the likes of Gary Lineker. Carrick may not be flash, but his simple passes and reading of the game are useful assets, particularly in the closing stages of a tight encounter.

Liverpool's English midfielder Steven Gerrard runs with the ball during the English Premier League football match between Aston Villa and Liverpool at Villa Park in Birmingham on August 24, 2013© Getty Images
Steven Gerrard
A combination of injuries and his advancing years may prevent the Liverpool talisman from covering every blade of grass like he once did, but he has proved his worth to England during this qualification campaign. As captain, the 33-year-old leads by example and can provide a calming influence to proceedings. Like Carrick, his ability to read the game and snuff out danger is an invaluable quality to possess. What's more, Gerrard has made a career of scoring goals at crucial times.

Jack Wilshere of England in action during the FIFA 2014 World Cup Qualifying Group H match between England and Moldova at Wembley Stadium on September 6, 2013© Getty Images
Jack Wilshere
Having made the headlines for all the wrong reasons last week, Wilshere responded by finding the net for Arsenal during their trip to West Bromwich Albion at the weekend. The arrival of Mesut Ozil at the Emirates Stadium has seen the 21-year-old pushed out to the left side of midfield. While he may not be overly content in that position, he may be asked to take up that responsibility to fit into this lineup. He may have disappointed against Ukraine, but the Arsenal man has the ability to unlock a defence with a key pass - not something that the England squad as a whole are overly blessed with.

Spurs winger Andros Townsend in action against Millwall on July 17, 2013© Getty Images
Andros Townsend
With Theo Walcott absent, England need some pace in the wide areas. James Milner has been mooted as a potential replacement for Walcott, but he is hardly a speed merchant and would represent the safe option. With plenty of experience around him, it's time to unleash Townsend, who has impressed during his eight outings for Tottenham this season. Although predominantly left-footed, the 22-year-old can operate on either the left or the right flank. Also, his quick feet and liking for a trick often see him win free kicks and penalties.

Like Ashley Cole, Wayne Rooney seems to limit his smoking to the holidays. Many believe that his habit used to infuriate Sir Alex Ferguson.© Getty Images
Wayne Rooney
When fit, Rooney has always played for England, regardless of his form. It's largely down to what he can produce at any moment. Some will argue that he shouldn't be an automatic starter, but right now the Man United frontman is in his best form for the last season or so. A head injury ruled him out of the Ukraine clash and his omission showed up in the team's performance. He also scored during England's last clash with Montenegro and has found the net five times for his club this term.

Daniel Sturridge of England in action on during the International Friendly match between England and the Republic of Ireland at Wembley Stadium on May 29, 2013© Getty Images
Daniel Sturridge
Danny Welbeck has been Hodgson's choice in recent matches, but the form of Sturridge cannot be ignored any longer. Welbeck has scored three times in all competitions so far this season, but Liverpool centre-forward Sturridge has five more to his name, including the winner against rivals Man United. His game has developed since moving to Anfield in January as well. He arrived from Chelsea with a reputation as a greedy player, but his link-up play with Luis Suarez of late has shown a more giving side to his game.

Theo Walcott of England congratulates Rickie Lambert of England on scoring their second goal during the FIFA 2014 World Cup Qualifying Group H match between England and Moldova at Wembley Stadium on September 6, 2013
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