Ukraine v England preview
England take on Ukraine safe in the knowledge that they have already qualified for the World Cup finals.
By James Riach
Last Updated: 10/10/09 5:22pm
England take on Ukraine in Dnipro safe in the knowledge that they have already booked their place in next year's World Cup finals.
The Three Lions will definitely top Group Six no matter what happens in their remaining two qualifying matches, although coach Fabio Capello will want to continue their 100 per cent record in the group.
After a thumping 5-1 win against Croatia last time out, England will be full of confidence but will have to be wary of a Ukraine side who can still pip Slaven Bilic's team to second spot.
If Ukraine manage to beat England they will be favourites to clinch a play-off place in Group Six, as they currently lie two points behind Croatia with a game in hand, and face minnows Andorra in their final fixture.
With a place in South Africa already assured, the Italian coach may decide to tinker with his starting line-up, although he is unlikely to make major changes.
Goalkeeper David James is hopeful of a return after a lengthy international absence with a shoulder injury.
The last time James wore the England jersey was in the reverse fixture against Ukraine in April, which the Three Lions won 2-1 at Wembley, but the Pompey stopper has now returned to full fitness.
However, Robert Green has deputised well, conceding just once in three competitive matches, and Capello may opt to keep the West Ham man between the sticks.
Another player who has been given a place in the squad is Manchester United midfielder Michael Carrick, while Bolton's Gary Cahill may be awarded his first cap from the bench.
Carrick, 28, has found chances hard to come by in international football as he plays second fiddle to Steven Gerrard, Frank Lampard and Gareth Barry in midfield, although he may be given the chance to prove he is worthy of a World Cup place.
Rio Ferdinand should replace Matthew Upson at centre-half, after missing the Croatia tie through injury
Striker Wayne Rooney is the leading scorer in the European qualifying round, with nine goals to his name so far, but he could find it difficult to add to his tally against a defence that has only conceded six goals in eight games.
However, Ukraine will be without injured defenders Dmytro Chygrynskiy and Andriy Rusol, while Vitaliy Mandzyuk is suspended.
Taras Mykhalik and Oleksandr Aliev return to the international fold, and former Chelsea striker Andriy Shevchenko is set to lead the line up front for the home side.
Possible England starting XI: Green, Johnson, A Cole, Terry, Ferdinand, Gerrard, Barry, Lampard, Lennon, Rooney, Heskey.