Some afternoon entertainment

We have two quizzes to put in the afternoon before the match...

Can you fill in the blanks on these two?

Name the missing shirt sponsors

Fill in the blanks in the England team sheets for their final qualifying games for the last 10 World Cups

Thanks for reading and commenting

Daniel has signed off...

Guardian staff

Thanks for the questions everyone. And, as usual, sorry for not being able to keep up with everyone

Better get down there now . . enjoy the match.

For-what-it's-worth prediction: England 2 Poland 1

Guardian staff

Though, just before I go, those rumours about Carrick are getting louder

We had him in our probable team today, but still not 100% confirmed (in other words, don't hold it against me etc etc . .)

cheers

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Shane88 asks:

Why has Michael Carrick been consistently overlooked by successive England managers? A cornerstone of the most (begrudginly - I'm an Arsenal fan) successful team in England over the last few years, an accomplished midfielder who retains possession, and a class act all round. Are the managers at fault or is Carrick?

Guardian staff

It's astonishing really that Carrick is in his 30s and has started only 19 games for England.

He's gone through periods when he has disappeared a bit in the bigger games and, occasionally, even now he will sometimes get overwhelmed (Man City 4 Man Utd 1). But he's a wonderful footballer and it says a lot about England that there has never been a time when they have tried to build a team around him, as Man Utd have.

Remember all the problems England had keeping the ball in Euro 2012? All it needed was a phone call from Roy Hodgson and Carrick could easily have been part of that squad. As it was, Hodgson took third-hand information that Carrick was permanently 'retired' and made no effort to investigate for himself. It's not one of his strong points, communication . .

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MrMondypops asks:

If England lose, in what order are the papers going to apportion blame:

Roy Hodgson
FA - for selling tickets to Poles
Players for playing poor
Players for being poor
FA for appointing Roy not 'Arry
FA for the players being poor
The Premier League
Too many Johnny Foreigners?

Guardian staff

I'd say, six of those eight would be relevant.

There's no point mentioning Harry Redknapp on here because I'm acutely aware how he is viewed in internet-world (and the silly old plank doesn't help himself sometimes).

But I don't think it's expecting too much to think that England, despite their own limitations, should have managed more than they have in Group H. It's been a long old slog and, until Friday, I can't recall a performance that has been above six out of ten.

paulgriffi asks:

Daniel, Steven Gerrard seems to give the ball away an awful lot in England matches, quite often trying ambitious through balls. I would be interested to know how his pass and assist stats compare to his peers and wonder whether his reputation covers his passing errors? I also wonder whether other players making such errors would get a much harder time in the press coverage?

Guardian staff

I don't have the stats at hand, but just look at how many times he set up goals with those right-wing deliveries in Euro 2012.

England not taking good enough care of the ball has been one of the problems in Group H and, yes, Gerrard's been a part of that. But I don't think he does too badly, overall.

ID8858624 asks:

Speaking hypothetically, we fail to win the group, and after losing in the play-offs, where Roy Hodgson's team manages to snatch failure from the jaws of victory, who could we install as new manager?

Guardian staff

This is the thing . .

If the FA insist it has to be an Englishman (and that appears to be the case bearing in mind they wouldn't even meet Pep Guardiola when told he was interested pre-Roy), who is there?

Harry Redknapp has surely blown it. There's Alan Pardew, Steve Bruce and one or two others. But it's not a particularly distinguished list, by any means.

If David Bernstein was still the FA chairman, I'd be pretty sure he would want to keep Roy in the job, regardless. Greg Dyke? I doubt it. But there isn't a stand-out candidate.

chuckyg asks:

Any chance of seeing Tom Huddlestone been given a chance with regards to his good form this season and his eye for a pass?

Guardian staff

Apparently he's playing really well for Hull, with a string of man-of-the-match performances already.

His problem is that he's got Lampard, Gerrard, Carrick, Wilshere and Barkley to get past. And Ravel Morrison (see earlier question) also coming through.

It doesn't help Huddlestone either that he's playing for Hull. I don't mean that to sound at all patronising, but players at Stoke have had this problem as well in the past. It's just not somewhere you will see Hodgson much this season.

Hodgson will always prefer the players from the top clubs (eg Phil Jones plays for Blackburn = not in England squad; signs for Man Utd = in England squad)

So, in short, I doubt it.

chuckyg asks

Do you think Ravel Morrison should be fast tracked into the England set up? Much like Barkley and others have been?

Guardian staff

I think we should wait a while and just be sure that Morrison can keep it up. But it is encouraging that he is playing so well and finally showing some focus.

Can he play in the World Cup? I've followed this lad since he was in the youth team at United, turning up for training in the back of a white van, numerous court appearances, all the rest of it, and it's been frustrating at times hearing how good he could be, and should be.

At times I've wondered whether all the talent would go to waste but he has some decent people around him now and maybe he's just growing up a little as well.

I'm not sure he's prominently in Hodgson's thinking though. Not yet anyway. Hodgson did not even include him for the under-21s when he was filling the gap before Gareth Southgate's appointment. I asked him why his first reply was: 'How old is he?' Which indicates it hadn't really been a consideration.

(Hodgson, incidentally, also said Adrian Bevington had helped him pick the squad, which is another issue entirely)

It's up to Ravel really. He's got all the talent. This, from Mirror Football's Twitter feed, is quite nice, by the way . .

http://www.mirror.co.uk/sport/football/news/watch-ravel-morrison-scores-outrageous-2372700?utm_source=twitterfeed&utm_medium=twitter

Here's that goal by Morrison...

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RonanS asks:

Given that an early goal would do wonders to calm typically fraught English nerves, do you think Hodgson will again go against type and instruct the place to attack with pace from the start? The downside to that would be, if England don't score, the players would start to think "well, what now?".

Guardian staff

If they take off from where they left off against Montenegro they will be fine.

At the risk of falling into the classic trap, if Poland are the fourth-best team in Group H then they are not a particularly accomplished team. It's a poor group and the performance on Friday was overdue, to say the least.

It's been noticeable, being around the team hotel the last few days, how upbeat everyone suddenly is. I'd hope, and expect, Hodgson to try to exploit that.

biggerridgers asks:

Assuming we qualify, do you think Gerrard and Lampard at the base of a 2-3-1 'front six' will be the default model for Brazil? I can see it getting us past the weaker teams, but surely there's a worrying lack of mobility in front of the defence if and when we come up against the stronger sides? If you think some more energy is needed in that area, which one would drop out and who would come in?

Guardian staff

In terms of energy, I'd say Gerrard and Lampard are no worse than the alternatives (Carrick and Wilshere).

It's a difficult debate though because it's almost guaranteed we will get towards the end of the season and someone will get injured. This is the recurring theme of the England national team: we're usually on our knees by the time these tournaments come around.

You would just hope we are in a better condition that we were for Euro 2012, when it was essentially Gerrard and Scott Parker, plus Jordan Henderson as next in reserve.

Daniel Taylor on England's tactical line-up...

Guardian staff

This is what I was talking about in earlier post . .

I'd like to think Hodgson could experiment with it. It's not particularly his style though, so it would be a surprise. A pleasant surprise, perhaps.

Baines was asked about it when he saw the media on Sunday and he said he would be surprised too.

He's never played that position before and Hodgson already has Welbeck/Milner'Oxlade-Chamberlain. Yet there's a part of me that thinks he probably had to say that. It's the left-back spot he wants, rather than next-best . .

ollieshrews asks:

Daniel, do you think England will start with the same line-up (apart from Walker, of course)?

Guardian staff

I did . . but there was some talk last night coming out of the England camp that Lampard might not start. Unconfirmed, but the same happened about Wilshere dropping down to the bench on Friday and it turned out to be correct.

Townsend trained yesterday but he took a knock to his left leg against Montenegro so obviously they need to check there's no reaction with him as well.

Jagielka also took a blow to the mouth in training but I'm told he is OK - a high kick, apparently (yes, almost certainly, Phil Jones)

Theloneraver asks:
If Leighton Baines puts in another comanding performance will we finally see the back of Ashley Cole in an England shirt? Cole seems a nice guy but his defending is suspect at times.

Guardian staff

I'm going to do that look now that Larry David does when he suspects someone is taking the mickey . . *stares*

But if not, I'm not sure many people would agree that Cole's defending is suspect . .

Baines is great but so is Cole and, in the big games, Coles is just about always impeccable

I spoke to Phil Jagielka about this last week and even he - as Baines's team-mate at Everton and close friend etc - sided with Cole.

I still think there's something in the idea of them both playing (as I wrote here on Sunday) . .


Leighton Baines's performance against Montenegro will no doubt add more weight to the argument that England's left-back position should be made his permanently even when Ashley Cole is available. Yet it was interesting to put the Baines-Cole debate to Phil Jagielka, another member of Everton's back four, earlier in the week and listen to him putting forward a case for the player from Chelsea ahead of his own colleague.

Jagielka is an eloquent guy and what he said cannot have been particularly easy – "Bainesy's one of my closest friends," he explained – but it all made sense. Would it be fair, he asked, for Cole, or any other footballer for that matter, to lose his place when he had done nothing but play with distinction? Jagielka's conclusion was that it would not and, as for the statistics that show Baines is more productive than Cole in attacking positions, England's centre-half talked at length about those qualities but also made the point that Chelsea had so many creative players elsewhere in their team there was not such an onus on their left-back to get forward, too.

"It is hard to say that directly to Bainesy. He has been fantastic for us at Everton, player of the year for the last few seasons, but unfortunately for him the person he has tried to nudge out of the way has also performed very well, particularly in an England shirt. Ash has performed to such a level he does not deserve to lose his place."

So here's an idea. Is it completely out of the question that the two of them could play in the same team? A little unorthodox, perhaps, but the idea of them overlapping on the left, with Baines in the more advanced role, should not be something England are afraid of experimenting with once this qualifying programme is over. It would happen in Spain without any major fuss while, at Bayern Munich, Philipp Lahm has just converted from a full-back to a central midfielder. "If I decided to play him as a striker, he would be the best striker in Europe," says Pep Guardiola, the Bayern coach.

Baines, in many people's eyes, is the best left-back England have. Perhaps, in time, he could also be the best left-sided midfielder.

Riverrail asks:

Have you ever heard a footballer use more cliches per 100 words than Stevie Gerrard? He must be on piece time or trying to win a bet. On the other hand, at school he spent the whole time looking out the window, and I bet he doesn't spend all that much time reading Jane Austen.

Guardian staff

He's far from the worst when it comes to cliches.

I know Gerrard can polarise opinion sometimes, but one thing that always shines through from covering England, seeing him close-up, on the training pitches, around the hotel, the way he deals with the media etc etc . . he's a very impressive captain.

Piearce9 asks:

Daniel, do you think 18,000 Polish fans will be sufficient to drown out the England Brass Band?

Guardian staff

I would hope so, as someone who would happily throw those instruments in the Thames

However, the whole story about the Polish allocation has been hugely overplayed. If anyone from the England camp is willing to use 'the loud away fans' as an excuse, then they probably don't deserve a place at the World Cup.

Thankfully, the impression I get is that it doesn't bother the players one bit

Daniel is online

Pborofan asks:

If we win tonight, will England play Forster in goal and Barkley in midfield in the next friendly?

Guardian staff

It wouldn't totally surprise me about Barkley. They're certainly looking at him very closely. Hodgson has been to three out of the last five Everton matches recently to make a personal check on him. Gary Neville was at another and Ray Lewington the fifth. So that's the last five Everton games when either the England manager or one of his coaches have been monitoring him. And, for the most part, he's been excellent.

Hodgson also made the point, amid all the praise for Andros Townsend, that he would have been perfectly happy to put Barkley in from the start. It all seems to have happened very quickly for me. But it's obvious Barkley has made a good impression.

As for Forster . . no . . or, at least, I would be very surprised. The clear sense from Hodgson, unless something has changed, is that Ruddy is second choice.

Daniel Taylor will be online from 1pm

Internationals at Wembley don't come much bigger than this. Tonight England welcome Poland – and their 18,000 fans – in a match the home team need to win to guarantee automatic qualification to next summer's World Cup finals in Brazil. Daniel will be along soon to discuss the match, but in the meantime, here are a few previews:

Dominic Fifield heard from Steven Gerrard in yesterday's pre-match press conference. The captain says he will be the "proudest man in the country" if he can leads the team to victory tonight.

Michael Cox reckons that Roy Hodgson should target Poland's weak full-backs.

Barney Ronay has been looking back on previous last-ditch World Cup qualifiers.

And Daniel Taylor has been recalling England's failure to qualify for Euro 2008 after their defeat to Croatia – an episode from which Gerrard says he will never fully recover.

Enjoy the webchat.

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