Rooney and Sturridge, a perfect partnership? So thinks captain Stephen Gerrard ahead of two crunch matches of which neither are as simple as they may appear on paper.
After failing to find a way through the home defence during last month’s crucial match in Ukraine, where both frontmen were unavailable, and although a point gained in Ukraine maintains England’s unbeaten record in the campaign, a victory either on Friday or next week is crucial should Gerrard’s men have ambitions to reach the World Cup finals whilst avoiding the hazards that face them through the play-offs.
Hodgson must be relieved to have the partnership that is Rooney and Sturridge together this time, and despite the fact that they have amassed only 30 minutes together for England, during the Republic of Ireland match in May, the record of five goals for Rooney and Eight Liverpool goals for Sturridge makes for a delighted Gerrard.
Regarding the Montenegro game at Wembley on Friday, Gerrard admitted that he would be surprised to see an adventurous performance by Montenegro, however he still realises that the pressure is huge, and nothing can be taken for granted.
England should, at least on paper, be too strong for Montenegro, and this is reflected in the betting odds.
The most popular bet by far is for an England win with prices of 4/11 being offered across the market, unsurprising considering the strength of the squad coupled with the fact that the game is at Wembley. A draw is being offered at 4/1 by Bet365, very generous considering that Montenegro have drawn 3 out of their last 6 matches, including a creditable 1-1 draw with England. Also, it is worth noting that the two nations have met three times, with all matches ending in a draw. As unlikely as it sounds, Montenegro are capable of upsets, and a win at Wembley is being offered at 10/1 by Bet365.
Various bookmakers have generous offers for this and other International matches, and further details of these can be found on the Free Bets page.