After doing the visiting side a favor by drawing 1-1 in Montenegro in its last game, the home team will be looking to cause problems for the group favorites in Sofia.
Mihaylov; Bandalovski, Bodurov, Ivanov, Zanev; S Petrov; Georgiev, Marquinhos, Manolev, M Petrov; Popov
The team will be relying on Bolton winger Martin Petrov for a spark as Dimitar Berbatov is conspicuous by his absence.
Hart; Smalling, Terry, Lescott, Cole; Lampard, Parker; Johnson, Rooney, Young; Bent
Fabio Capello faces a dilemma at right back with regular starter Glen Johnson injured. Normally a central defender, Chris Smalling has excelled in the position at Manchester United at the start of this season and may find himself making his international debut in the same role ahead of Micah Richards, for who Capello has never shown any real interest.
The Italian may be tempted to field Liverpool’s Andy Carroll up front but Darren Bent’s recent international scoring record and a desire to avoid falling back into the flawed 4-4-2 formation should see him on the bench with Wayne Rooney playing behind the Aston Villa striker.
||DID YOU KNOW?|
- England has drawn its past two games – 1-1 in a friendly with Ghana in March and 2-2 in its last qualifier against Switzerland in June.
- Bulgaria’s trip to Wembley earlier in the first game of the qualifying group saw the team lose 4-0 thanks to a hat-trick from Jermain Defoe.
- Aston Villa’s Stilyan Petrov, captain for club and country, will equal his nation’s all-time appearance record, tying with goalkeeper Borislav Mihaylov on 102 assuming he plays in Sofia. Mihaylov, 48, is now President of the Bulgarian Football Union, and his son Nikolay, formerly of Liverpool, is likely to start this game.
- The England squad contains five uncapped players – goalkeepers David Stockdale and Frankie Fielding, defenders Smalling and Phil Jones, and midfielder Tom Cleverley.
- Bulgaria, on the other hand, includes three players who could make their international debuts – midfielders Tsvetomir Tsonkov, Simeon Raykov and striker Georgi Bozhilov.
- Wayne Rooney is two goals away from reaching England’s all-time top 10 goalscorers. If he nets a brace in Sofia he will join Steve Bloomer and Vivian Woodward on 28 goals. David Platt currently remains one ahead of the Manchester United man.