Montenegro v England: Walcott can make the difference

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Although many England supporters will be expecting an influential performance from Wayne Rooney against Montenegro, it could be the display of Theo Walcott that has the biggest bearing on the Euro 2012 qualifier in Podgorica.

Walcott missed the disappointing goalless draw with Montenegro at Wembley and his pace and directness could cause new problems.

At Wembley, one of England’s leading problems was that Ashley Young and Adam Johnson were picked in the wide areas and both were more intent on cutting inside onto their favoured feet rather than attacking down the line.

This, alongside Montenegro selecting a five-man midfield, meant that the central area of the pitch was over congested, which also limited Wayne Rooney’s impact on the game as he had no space to drop off in to.

The fact that Peter Crouch was selected in attack also meant that England made little effort to run in behind the Montenegro defence.

Montenegro virtually man-marked Rooney at Wembley, but repeating this at home could leave far too much space in behind and this will be doubly problematic if England have the pace of Walcott at their disposal.

Walcott could additionally have an instrumental role to play as Montenegro are expected to rest first-choice left-back Milan Jovanovic to prevent him getting a booking that would see him suspended for the final Group G qualifier with Switzerland.

A draw for Montenegro against Switzerland regardless of their result with England would see them reach the Euro 2012 play-offs.

The decision of new Montenegro coach Branko Brnovic to rest not only Jovanovic, but fellow defender Marko Basa and pivotal midfielder Nikola Drincic has resulted in England shortening to 4/6 to beat Montenegro.

Meanwhile, Walcott may be a solid value bet at 8/1 to open the scoring.

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Craig Kemp

Craig has written for Ladbrokes since the 2010 World Cup, having previously gained a Media & Sports Journalism degree and contributed to publications including the Racing Post. His main areas of interest are horse racing and UFC, but he is also an avid X Factor gambler and likes nothing more than indulging in a spot of Hip Hop Karaoke.