England look set to bowl over Belarus in the final World Cup qualifier

England v Belarus, 2010 World Cup qualifier, October 14, 2009

England 1/8; Draw 5/1; Belarus 14/1

With this match being screened live on ITV, we can expect the final World Cup qualifier to receive the full build-up compared to the days preceding England’s defeat to the Ukraine on Saturday. The fact football fans will be able to watch this on their widescreen plasmas should ensue yet more defensive discussions about Rio Ferdinand, although it is questionable whether Belarus will get close to David James’ goal. (England are 2/5 to keep a clean sheet.)

With this Wembley encounter a dead rubber for both teams we can expect a weakened line-up for the Three Lions but there should be no shortage of players looking to impress with South Africa in sight.

David James will start in place of the suspended Robert Green and will be eager to build on his performance in Dnepropetrovsk. If reports are to be believed Rio Ferdinand (9/1 to score & England win) has also earned himself a starting berth for this match, with Fabio Capello looking for an assured, error-free performance from the Manchester United defender.

Gareth Barry (11/2 to score) could come back into the midfield after missing out on the Ukraine defeat through injury and Aaron Lennon (7/2 to score) will be eager to make an impact after being the fall-guy for Roberg Green’s sending off. David Beckham (10/1 to score last) will also hope to play some part after suffering the ignominy of not even making the matchday squad for Fabio Capello’s first competitive defeat.

With Wayne Rooney back home in Manchester, we could well witness a completely new England strike force of Carlton Cole (4/1 to score first) and Gabriel Agbonlahor (7/5 to score & England win) . Both have been in excellent form at club level and could profit against a weak Belarus side that have been comfortably the fourth best team in Group 6.

England won 3-1 (11/1) in Belarus 364 days prior to this match and a similar scoreline should be on the cards at Wembley. Although they travel to Blighty on the back of a 4-0 home win over Kazakhstan they will be without their best player in Aleksandr Hleb, the Stuttgart schemer who seemingly never tires of mentioning how he shouldn’t have left Arsenal.

Without Hleb, England will have to be wary of Timofey Kalachev (7/1 to score), who claimed a brace in the victory over the Kazakhs. The Krylya Sovetov midfielder is their top scorer in qualifying and will be looking to take advantage of the perceived weaknesses in the England defence.

Up-front, Belarus will likely start with Zenit St. Petersburg striker Sergei Kornilenko (6/1 to score) and Vitali Kutuzov (16/1 to score first) who plays his club football for Bari. Whilst neither is particularly prolific, the chance to perform at Wembley and to pressure the home defence could see them trouble David James.

England’s front players will have to work hard to rack up a high score against Belarus. The Eastern Europeans have not conceded more than three a match in World Cup qualifying so far and have only let in one goal in their last three matches.

With Steven Gerrard a doubt after he was substituted at half-time on Saturday, the goal scoring responsibility may fall on Frank Lampard’s (15/2 to score a brace) runs from deep. The Chelsea midfielder had scored five goals in his previous five international matches before defeat to Ukraine and if Agbonlahor and Cole do play, he could receive good service from the front men.

Fabio Capello will be keen for the Three Lions to get back on track with what looks like a comfortable fixture. England may struggle to hit five as they did last time at Wembley against Croatia but a win shouldn’t be too hard to come by.

101gg predicts: England 3 – Belarus 0 (11/2)

England 1/8; Draw 5/1; Belarus 14/1

Full match odds here.