Moldova 10.00 The Draw 5.00 England 1.28
Andy Carroll was the first to withdraw from Roy Hodgson’s squad following a hamstring injury sustained during his West Ham debut against Fulham in the Premier League at the weekend. The England boss opted not to draft in a replacement striker, and is therefore expected to start Theo Walcott alongside Jermain Defoe in the England attack.
Ashley Cole has also withdrawn from the squad due to injury, so Leighton Baines is expected to deputise ably in the left-back role. Joe Hart retains his no.1 berth, while John Terry should reform his Euro 2012 partnership with Jolean Lescott at centre half. In midfield, Steven Gerrard could be joined Manchester United duo by Tom Cleverley and Michael Carrick who so impressed during the pre-season friendly with Italy.
There was a marked improvement in England’s performances during the recent European Championships, as Hodgson organised his troops into a side that was extremely difficult to beat. But while a team that is difficult to beat, containing players of England's calibre, can be expected to make the latter stages of major tournaments, it is far from being the recipe to ultimate success and silverware. England need to add something more to their game if they are to attain something tangible for their efforts in Brazil in two years time.
Although we won’t learn much from the performance or result against a Moldova side of limited ability, Hodgson and his players can at least make a statement of intent in Chisnau this week with an emphatic win. The Three Lions can be backed at odds of 3.20 with a -2 goal handicap.
Moldova, meanwhile, come into this game having failed to score in six of their last seven games against all opposition, while they have lost 10 of their last 12 fixtures with the only win in that period coming against minnows San Marino. You can get odds of 1.78 that England keep a clean sheet this Friday; a bet made all the more appealing by England’s record of two clean sheets in their last three games.
England and Moldova have met twice previously, when they were drawn in the same qualification group for France ’98. England, then managed by Glenn Hoddle, won 4-0 at Wembley and 3-0 in the reverse fixture, which took place almost 16 years ago to the day, and was notable for the international debut of one David Beckham. A 3-0 win for Hodgson’s men this time can be backed at odds of 9.25, while the 4-0 victory is a 16.00 chance. Both options look to be worth a nibble at small stakes.
With Wayne Rooney unavailable due to a gash in his thigh and Andy Carroll out with a hamstring injury, England look particularly depleted in offensive options going into this game. Jermain Defoe, Theo Walcott, Danny Welbeck and Daniel Sturridge are the available options for Hodgson. Defoe naturally heads the betting, followed by Welbeck and Sturridge, but there’s better value to be had by looking beyond the strikers here...
Under Hodgson, England’s biggest threat has tended to come from set pieces, and powerful players Joleon Lescott, Phil Jagielka and Andy Carroll have all scored opening goals in recent games. With Carroll out of the equation, England’s centre-halfs are likely to be encouraged to get forward for corners and attacking free-kicks, making Terry at odds of 20.00 and Gary Cahill at 25.00 or Lescott at 28.00 - depending on who is named alongside Terry in the starting XI - appealing bets to score the first goal of the game. If he starts, Frank Lampard is likely to be on penalty duty and can be backed at odds of 7.00 to break the deadlock.
England -2 goals @ 3.20
John Terry to score first @ 20.00.