• Gerrard, Johnson, Cole, Lescott, Milner, Defoe to return
• Frank Lampard and Theo Walcott are ruled out
Roy Hodgson will demonstrate his ruthless streak by making up to six changes to his England line-up for Tuesday's World Cup qualifying tie in Poland, despite seeing his hopes of recalling Frank Lampard dashed by his withdrawal with a calf injury.
The national manager will welcome back his captain, Steven Gerrard, and his first-choice right-back, Glen Johnson, the pair having missed Friday's 5-0 victory over San Marino through suspension. The trio of players rested for that fixture as they were one yellow card away from suffering their own one-match ban – Joleon Lescott, James Milner and Jermain Defoe – are also likely to return to the side in Warsaw while Ashley Cole is expected to earn his 99th cap at left-back at the expense of Leighton Baines.
Their inclusion would leave only five survivors from the game at Wembley, where England moved three points ahead of Montenegro and Poland at the top of Group H. The manager had indicated in the build-up to the San Marino fixture that his selection for that game would be made with Poland in mind as he sought to ensure his side will be fresh and free of suspensions for one of the more awkward fixtures in the section. The absence of Lampard, who might also have started the game in the national stadium, still represents a blow.
The 34-year-old had returned to Chelsea on Thursday to undergo treatment on a minor calf injury, having initially been discomforted earlier in the week with a knee complaint. Hodgson had hoped the midfielder, together with his club-mate Ryan Bertrand, who had been laid low with a virus, would be fit enough to return on Sunday in time to travel to Poland, though those aspirations have now been dashed.
Both players linked up at the team's Hertfordshire hotel to be assessed by the England medical staff and, with neither sufficiently recovered, were released back to Chelsea. The Premier League leaders will hope to have both available for the awkward trip to Tottenham on Saturday.
That will leave Hodgson travelling east with a party of 23 players – they have retained Liverpool's Jonjo Shelvey – with Theo Walcott also ruled out after bruising a lung early in the victory over San Marino. The Arsenal forward was clattered by the San Marino goalkeeper, Aldo Junior Simoncini, and spent Friday night in hospital after coughing up blood and before being released on Saturday afternoon. His Arsenal club-mate, the young right-back Carl Jenkinson, trained with England at London Colney on Sunday to gain experience with the senior squad but will not travel to Warsaw.
Cole, whose wait to secure a century of caps is likely to be extended into 2013, is expected to return despite Baines having started all four of England's games this season and with his reputation bolstered by excellent form for Everton to date this term. "You've got Cole on 98 caps, a fantastic left-back, and then you've got the in-form player in the Premier League in Leighton Baines," said Phil Jagielka. "I think I'd be spinning a coin, heads or tails. I'm glad I don't have to make that decision."