England manager Roy Hodgson insists there will be no complacency in the camp ahead of Friday’s meeting with Moldova at Wembley.
Hodgson’s men opened their World Cup qualifying campaign with a five-goal hammering of the Eastern Europeans 12 months ago. On that evidence it was felt Moldova would be lucky to get any points other than the six they were likely to claim against minnows San Marino.
As it turns out, Moldova have also taken points off Ukraine and Poland, who in turn have avoided defeat in their meetings with England. And those results have put Hodgson on red alert.
“Moldova also lost in the last minute to a very fortunate goal against Montenegro, otherwise they’d have an even better points tally,” said Hodgson. “I don’t think I need to caution the players or guard against complacency and I don’t think I’ve seen any signs of that in the games we’ve played. If I did think any complacency was creeping in I’d be very quick to move in and quash it.”
After the withdrawals of Manchester United pair Wayne Rooney and Phil Jones, plus Liverpool’s Glen Johnson yesterday, which prompted the call-up of Cardiff defender Steven Caulker, the remainder of Hodgson’s squad did either recovery work or a light training session following their arrival at St George’s Park.
However, concern remains over the fitness of in-form striker Daniel Sturridge. The Liverpool man scored his fifth goal of the season to earn the Reds victory over Manchester United and maintain their 100 per cent record at Anfield on Sunday.
But afterwards Sturridge reported continuing pain from a groin injury that threatened his participation even in the warm-up. And Hodgson will want the injury assessed extensively before pushing Sturridge forward to feature against Moldova and the key meeting with Ukraine in Kiev on 10 September.