England’s captain is right to warn his team-mates about the potential pitfalls awaiting them in Montenegro on Tuesday night.
Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard has sent a message to England players urging focus ahead of Three Lions’ testing trip to Podgorica.
“It is important everyone takes responsibility and stays on the pitch. I’m sure everyone knows it before the game but I’m sure the manager will remind everyone,” said Gerrard.
SOURCE: BBC Sport Online
England’s impressive captain Steven Gerrard did not take part in Friday night’s 8-0 romp against San Marino in their World Cup Group H qualifier, sensibly being rested by head coach Roy Hodgson with a view to playing a role in Tuesday evening’s far more testing fixture away at group leaders Montenegro.
However, the Liverpool midfield player has still taken the time between these two vastly contrasting away fixtures to remind his England team-mates of the pitfalls awaiting them in the tiny Balkan city of Podgorica in two days’ time.
Montenegro, lest anyone forget, currently lead the Group H standings by two points from second-in-the-table England at the halfway point on the road to next summer’s World Cup finals in Brazil, although Hodgson and Co are as yet still to play the surprise group leaders.
However, with only the group winners guaranteed a place at Brazil 2014, with the runners-up having to endure the lottery of a two-legged play-off next autumn, Gerrard knows all too well that he and his team-mates cannot afford any slips-ups on Tuesday night.
England do have previous of course when it comes to taking on Montenegro, who they met twice during their successful qualification for Euro 2012, with both matches ending in a draw, 0-0 at Wembley stadium followed by a 2-2 thriller in the final qualifier in Podgorica, a contest in which Fabio Capello’s side had led 2-0 early on, before Wayne Rooney was shown a straight red card as the visitors ended up being held.
And, with attacking players of the quality of Juventus centre-forward Mirko Vucinic and highly-rated Fiorentina front man Stevan Jovetic set to line up in attack against England centre-backs Joleon Lescott and Chris Smalling, Gerrard knows that his side are in for a tricky night on Tuesday.
England know that avoiding defeat would not after all be the worst result in the world, what with Montenegro still to play at Wembley next autumn, but conversely should they suffer the ignominy of a loss, then things really will start to look bleak for Hodgson.
The England boss will hope Gerrard’s strong words have a positive effect on his team.