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England welcome their biggest challengers in Group I to Wembley Stadium on Wednesday night and they’ll be confident about making it three qualifying wins on the bounce given the news that Poland’s talismanic striker Robert Lewandowski is missing due to a knee injury.
This should afford the English defence, particularly their full backs, a chance to push further forward and attack the Poles more, given that they are not going to be worried about the Bayern Munich hitman threatening them in behind. But, who is going to do the damage for the Three Lions?
Wednesday 19:45 – England v Poland
We’re going with Manchester City’s Raheem Sterling to hit the back of the net at anytime and continue his sparkling run of form in an England shirt. Sterling has hit six goals in his last 10 games for Gareth Southgate’s men, including one in his most recent outing at Wembley against San Marino and don’t be surprised if he repeats the trick here.
Everything feels like bonus territory for Scotland at the minute after qualifying for their first major tournament since 1998. So, while the nation waits for the European Championships in the summer, these World Cup qualifiers seem like something of a free hit for Steve Clarke’s side.
The opening pair of fixtures can be described as ‘okay’ outings for the Scots as they picked up a creditable draw at home with Austria before repeating the trick in Tel Aviv against Israel. But, given they are in a group with the aforementioned Austria and Denmark, they will need to ramp up their results from now on if they are to make it to Qatar in 2022.
Wednesday 19:45 – Scotland v Faroe Islands
Sky Sports Main Event
Securing the services of an on-song Premier League striker has been a huge boost for Scotland’s chances of doing just that though, and having Southampton’s Che Adams on the Tartan bandwagon is certainly a positive. Adams made his debut as a second-half sub against Austria last week and made an impression against Israel laying on an assist for Ryan Fraser to level matters on Sunday evening.
You wouldn’t consider Scotland v Faroe Islands to be a rivalry, but they are neighbours and this seems the perfect opportunity for the Saints striker to open his account for his new international side.
It’s a sorry thing for fans of The Green and White Army to hear, but – like their counterparts in the Republic – Northern Ireland’s form of late has been woeful and that’s putting it kindly. The North have lost seven of their last eight internationals and even though most of them have been tight affairs settled by the odd goal, Ian Baraclough’s outfit just seem to have lost the knack of getting themselves over the line.
Losses to Italy and the USA in the last week have compounded matters further and they simply have to win against Bulgaria on Wednesday night if they are to have any chance of getting in the mix to qualify for the World Cup. Bulgaria’s only win in their last 11 games was against minnows Gibraltar – although they did draw with the Republic of Ireland twice in recent times.
Wednesday 19:45 – Northern Ireland v Bulgaria
Sky Sports Football
This is as must-win as it gets for the North, and they’ll be hoping that Hull City man Josh Magennis can bring his form for his club onto the international scene. Magennis has hit 11 goals in League One this season and we fancy him to add to his international tally of 12 on Wednesday night – especially as he comes into the game fresh after being rested for the US game.
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