Southgate expects England to edge tight Ukrainian encounter

The former Middlesbrough man predicts a Three Lions victory en route to topping the group and also highlighted the match as a great experience for Raheem Sterling
By James McManus

Former defender Gareth Southgate is predicting a narrow victory for England in their 2014 World Cup qualifier against Ukraine at Wembley.

The two sides have already played once this summer, with England emerging as narrow 1-0 victors in their Euro 2012 group in June.

Southgate concedes that Ukraine have several talented players who may pose a threat from wide areas, but has highlighted a lack of goal scoring threat as the Eastern European side's downfall, predicting England to run out winners again.

Southgate exclusively told "The wide players England will have to watch out for, like we saw in the summer. I think they've got some good players in those areas such as [Andriy] Yarmolenko and [Oleh] Gusev.

9/1 England are 9/1 with William Hill to beat Ukraine 2-1 as pet Gareth Southgate's prediction
"What they don't have is a great number of players with a good goal scoring record and it's difficult to see where their goals will come from.

"I'm expecting England to win, but it might be quite tight, so I'm going for England to win 2-1."

Southgate believes that England will top the group to qualify for the World Cup in 2014, but warned against complacency when travelling to difficult locations such as Poland and Ukraine.

He added: "You're always aware that early on in a campaign it can be difficult - we only got a draw away in Montenegro last time around and it's quite conceivable that you could go to either Poland or Ukraine and drop points.

"But I think England will expect to win the group and I see no reason at the moment why that won't happen."

A lot of the build-up to the Ukraine clash tonight has centred around 17-year-old winger Raheem Sterling, who earned his first call-up to the senior squad after Theo Walcott left the team due to illness.

"I think it's unlikely that Raheem Sterling would figure during the match but Roy would need the cover"

- Gareth Southgate

Southgate has his doubts of whether Sterling will feature, but admits it will be a great experience for him nevertheless.

He continued: "I think it's unlikely that Raheem would figure during the match but Roy would need the cover.

"It's a boost for [Sterling], but at the moment, I know that he was with the Under-19's, sometimes we can elevate people too quickly, but as long as it's a one-off it will be a great experience.

"You have to realise that it's better for younger players to be playing in their own age group until they are fully ready to move forward."

Gareth Southgate was speaking on behalf of William Hill, Official Supporter of the England team - For more information, and to see the latest betting for England v Ukraine visit: or

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