Out of contention for Brazil, visitors' vulnerability on the flanks should be exposed by Andros Townsend and Leighton Baines
The main feature of England's attacking play during their 4-1 victory over Montenegro on Friday was their excellent use of the flanks. The all-Tottenham combination of Andros Townsend and Kyle Walker attacked powerfully down the right, with Townsend responsible for creating the opener and later scoring a fine goal from long range.
The advanced positioning of the left-back Leighton Baines was also particularly obvious, with England playing a patient game, switching play between the wings.
Roy Hodgson will urge a similar approach at Wembley against Poland. Unable to qualify for the World Cup after their 1-0 defeat in Ukraine on Friday, and with their coach Waldemar Fornalik widely expected to leave his job after this match, Poland hardly represent an intimidating challenge – and their most obvious weakness is at full-back.
In the right-back position, Poland are without Dortmund's Lukasz Piszczek, who has not played since the European Cup final at Wembley in May because of operations on his hip and groin. Poland's biggest strength is his relationship with the right-winger Jakub Blaszczykowski, which works excellently at both club and international level, so he represents a significant loss. The replacement, Artur Jedrzejczyk, was the best defender in the Polish Ekstraklasa last season, earning a move to the Russian club FC Krasnodar, but he is not on Piszczek's level.
There is an even bigger problem at left-back, however, where the previous regular, Sebastian Boenisch of Bayer Leverkusen, received criticism for a string of poor performances, and was therefore omitted from Fornalik's final squad for these two games. Jakub Wawrzyniak has failed to take advantage of his opportunities, constantly making positional errors, but Grzegorz Wojtkowiak has not fared much better. A right-back by trade, the 1860 Munich player made a huge error for the only goal against Ukraine, failing to intercept a cross from the left-winger Yevhen Konoplyanka, allowing the right-winger Andriy Yarmolenko to score.
The nature of Ukraine's goal – the two wide players combining – neatly summarises how England must attack, and Yarmolenko also opened the scoring in the reverse fixture, cutting inside from the right to shoot with his favoured left foot, something Townsend frequently attempts for Spurs.
Poland's left-sided weakness is not helped by Fornalik's indecision on the left of midfield: in nine qualification games, he has used five different players in that position, none of whom have started more than twice. Waldemar Sobota failed to impress on Friday, and with Poland now unable to reach the World Cup it makes sense to give the promising 19-year-old Udinese winger Piotr Zielinski, who has scored three goals in six games so far, a start.
Hodgson will be without the suspended Walker, with Phil Jones set to deputise at right-back, but England's strategy does not need to alter significantly: spreading the play wide to use Townsend's pace and Baines' crossing should reap rewards.