March 22, 2013 8:00 PM GMT
Stadio Olimpico di Serravalle — Serravalle
Referee: A. Bieri
San Marino - England Preview: Roy Hodgson left with selection dilemma after Ferdinand withdrawal
The Three Lions take on Fifa's worst ranked international side and will be short of options in defence with the Manchester United defender, Gary Cahill & Michael Dawson all missing
By Josh Clarke
Giampaolo Mazza has a full squad to select from ahead of England’s Friday night visit and is likely to field a similar side to the one that was thrashed 6-0 last time out by group leaders Montenegro.
Three Lions boss Roy Hodgson has had to deal with several selection issues ahead of the encounter, though, with Gary Cahill, Michael Dawson and Jack Wilshere all withdrawing through injury and Rio Ferdinand pulling out after his unexpected return to the England fold.
The catalogue of personnel changes leaves England short of options at centre-half, with Newcastle’s Steven Taylor in contention to win a first cap. However, it is likely Hodgson will opt for the relative international experience of Joleon Lescott and Chris Smalling ahead of the more match-primed duo of Taylor and Steven Caulker.
Steven Gerrard, Ashley Young and Kyle Walker were all absent from an early-week training session yet all are expected to be fit for the game, while Wayne Rooney is expected to partner Manchester United team-mate Danny Welbeck up front for the visitors.
|DID YOU KNOW?|
- England and San Marino have met three times previously, with the Three Lions winning every meeting with an aggregate score of 18 goals to one.
- San Marino have not scored a goal in competitive football since 2004.
- San Marino are currently joint bottom of Fifa's international rankings, level with Bhutan and Turks and Caicos Islands.
- Joe Hart is the only player to have featured in every minute of England's 2014 World Cup Qualifying campaign.
- The last time England played away from Wembley they were on the receiving end of a four-goal Zlatan Ibrahimvich haul that resulted in Roy Hodgson's first defeat as Three Lions manager.
- In terms of percentage of games won, Hodgson (61.5%) has edged ahead of Sir Alf Ramsay (61.1%) yet is in second-place in the all time list behind Fabio Capello (66.7%).
- The estimated population of San Marino is 32,404 - enough to fill just over a third of Wembley.
- Steven Gerrard (pictured right) is one strike away from joining World Cup legend Martin Peters on 20 goals for his country. He is 9/2 to score the first goal in the game with William Hill.
|Sign up with William Hill for a free bet up to £25|
|Sign up with bet365 for a free bet up to £200|
|Sign up to Paddy Power for £250 in free bets|
|Sign up today with Coral and get a £50 FREE bet - no strings attached!|
|Sign up today with BetVictor and get a £25 FREE BET!|
|Sign up with Betway for an exclusive bet £10 get £20 free bet!|
Top 3 Predictions
San Marino 0-3 England
- 13.48 %
San Marino 0-5 England
- 10.54 %
San Marino 0-4 England
- 9.83 %
|World Cup Qualifying - UEFA (WCQ)||Mar 22, 2013||San Marino 0 - England 8|
|World Cup Qualifying - UEFA (WCQ)||Oct 12, 2012||England 5 - San Marino 0|
|Oct 15, 2013||San Marino 0 - Ukraine 8||WCQ|
|Oct 11, 2013||Moldova 3 - San Marino 0||WCQ|
|Sep 10, 2013||San Marino 1 - Poland 5||WCQ|
|Sep 6, 2013||Ukraine 9 - San Marino 0||WCQ|
|May 31, 2013||Italy 4 - San Marino 0||FR|
|1||Aldo Junior Simoncini||Goalkeeper|
|6||Alessandro Della Valle||Defender|
|-||Alex Della Valle||Defender|
|-||Danilo Ezequiel Rinaldi||Striker|
|Aldo Junior Simoncini|
Though that averages out at just four per game, the hosts have fared slightly worse against the group's front-runners, conceding five last time out to England and six at home to Montenegro, so hopes will be pinned on Simoncini to play his part in keeping a creditable scoreline for as long as possible.
Irrespective of whether he fills in at the back or not, Friday night should offer a fair few clues of how important a member of Hodgson's squad Carrick really is, particularly with Jack Wilshere, the star of the show in the last outing against Brazil, out for the foreseeable future. Now would be the perfect time for Carrick to bring his quietly impressive club form to the international stage, especially bearing in mind the opposition.
Anything but a win, and an emphatic one at that, is unthinkable for Roy Hodgson's side as they look to keep the heat up on group leaders Montenegro. Even if the Three Lions boss fields a weakened side with Tuesday's game in mind, the gulf in class between the two is almost unbridgable. This one should be as routine as they come.