England - Poland Preview: Three Lions need victory to seal World Cup berth
The 4-1 triumph over Montenegro on Friday means that Roy Hodgson's side need to beat Robert Lewandowski and Co. at Wembley to ensure their place in Brazil next summer
By Alex Fisher
Roy Hodgson's side are on the verge of qualification after beating Montenegro on Friday but a failure to secure maximum points in the final group game would condemn them to the play-offs if Ukraine beat San Marino, as expected.
Poland saw their hopes of reaching the finals extinguished on Friday when they were defeated 1-0 by Ukraine but they can still have a big say on the outcome of Group H.
England fans and players will not need reminding of the clash between the sides in 1973 as Poland left the hosts crestfallen, with goalkeeper Jan Tomaszewski's heroics denying Alf Ramsey's side a place at the World Cup the following year.
The 1-1 draw also cost Ramsey his job and current captain Steven Gerrard has warned his team-mates to maintain their focus to avoid another disaster.
"They're going to come and do us no favours, like Montenegro, try to make it really difficult for us.
"It's important that we perform to the same level as on Friday night."
England should be confident given they have not lost a competitive fixture since being defeated 4-1 by Germany at World Cup 2010. At Wembley, England's unbeaten run in qualifiers stretches back to November 2007 when a 3-2 loss to Croatia denied the Three Lions progression to Euro 2008 and ended Steve McClaren's tenure as manager.
Poland's away form is something of a concern for coach Waldemar Fornalik, having won just once on their travels in qualifying, a 5-1 success over San Marino.
The visitors fell to another away defeat on Friday and striker Robert Lewandowski is unsure why Poland continue to struggle.
"Sometimes I wonder exactly what we are missing," he remarked to reporters. "I am thinking in particular of a few draws in the matches we should be winning. There are moments when it seems that everything is going in the right direction.
"We go to England now, we know we have a lot of fans out there who will come to the game. We don't stand a chance of going through but we want to go to Wembley and at least allow our supporters a little fun."
England will be without Tom Cleverley (calf), Ashley Cole (rib) and the suspended Kyle Walker but have called Liverpool midfielder Raheem Sterling into the squad as cover, while defender Lukasz Szukala will not be available for Poland after he was booked against Ukraine. ---------------- goal.com