England v Ukraine preview
England take on co-hosts Ukraine at the Donbass Arena knowing that a point is enough to take them through to the quarter-finals of Euro 2012.
By Razwan Mirza - Tweet me: @RazMirza
Last Updated: 18/06/12 8:10pm
England take on co-hosts Ukraine at the Donbass Arena in Donetsk knowing that a point is enough to take them through to the quarter-finals of Euro 2012.
Oleg Blokhin's side, on the other hand, need to win to make it past the group stage, so tensions will be high in what is sure to be an intoxicating atmosphere.
Three Lions head coach Roy Hodgson will definitely pick talismanic striker Wayne Rooney and he is facing the classic dilemma of who to drop to make way for him.
Rooney will return to the team on Tuesday after completing his two-match suspension following his red card against Montenegro in Podgorica eight months ago.
Either his Manchester United team-mate Danny Welbeck or Liverpool striker Andy Carroll will lose his place in the starting line-up.
Carroll scored with a header and Welbeck cleverly flicked home the winner when England beat Sweden 3-2 on Friday which put them in sight of the last eight.
"They have given me the classic manager's headache but it's the headache we all want really, because they are players are in-form and competing for a place," said the former West Brom and Liverpool boss.
Meanwhile, skipper Steven Gerrard said: "Everyone knows what Wayne Rooney is all about. He certainly makes us a lot more threatening going forward and he is a world-class player."
The last time Rooney took part in a European Championship, he scored four goals in four games, back in 2004, so his first appearance at this summer's tournament will be much anticipated.
Hodgson has a clean bill of health in his squad with Theo Walcott available after a hamstring niggle.
And the 64-year-old is content that expectation levels are rising in England after the opening two games which have garnered four points, but he can give no guarantee of success.
Ukraine are sweating over the fitness of team captain Andriy Shevchenko who is rated as a "50-50 chance" of recovering from a knee injury in time for the decisive Group D clash.
Shevchenko completed a squad training session on Monday, having sat out training the previous day because of a swollen left knee.
But he remains an injury doubt and Blokhin says he will only decide whether or not to play the striker shortly before the match.
Speaking through an interpreter, Blokhin said: "If he is not able to play, that would be a great loss."
The loss of the former AC Milan and Chelsea striker would be a huge blow for Ukraine because not only is he the country's all-time top scorer but he is a key figure in the dressing room.
The 35-year-old has also scored four of Ukraine's seven goals at major international tournaments.
Blokhin said the pressure was on Ukraine's opponents given their higher status in the game and greater expectations.
"They are one of the favourites, so the pressure is on them," he said.
"We have a more relaxed approach, we have nothing to lose, even if we don't get a great result, if we show fight on the pitch till last minute that will be no disgrace," he said.