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Football | England

Lambert to start for England



Southampton striker Rickie Lambert will lead England's attack in the World Cup qualifier against Moldova on Friday after Daniel Sturridge was ruled out through injury.

Manager Roy Hodgson hopes the in-form Sturridge, who has returned to Liverpool for treatment on a thigh problem, may recover in time for Tuesday's qualifier in Ukraine.

Hodgson was already without striker Wayne Rooney for both games due to a head injury and Lambert, who scored on his debut in a friendly against Scotland last month, will start against Moldova at Wembley alongside Danny Welbeck and Theo Walcott.

"We have not exactly been lucky with injuries. We have lost five players that a couple of weeks ago I was really banking on," Hodgson told a news conference on Thursday before adding defender Steven Caulker was also ruled out with an ankle injury.

"(Sturridge) has worked hard at his treatment. The initial prognosis was that he would not be fit for either. It will be touch and go for Tuesday but we won't know until Sunday."

Later in the day the Football Association named Hodgson's starting line-up on its official Twitter feed, showing that captain Steven Gerrard, Frank Lampard and Jack Wilshere would be playing in midfield behind Lambert, Walcott and Welbeck.

England are well-placed to qualify for next year's tournament in Brazil although they trail Group H leaders Montenegro by two points with a game in hand. Ukraine are third, a point behind England.

The build-up to the Moldova game has been dominated by FA chairman Greg Dyke's assertion that few people believe England can win next year's finals.

"I would say I very much doubt we are at the top of bookmakers lists to win the World Cup next year at the moment," Hodgson said. "So let us first qualify and then aim to get a bit better when Brazil comes round.

"The four remaining games are of vital importance. I don't quantify games as one being easy or one being hard. Moldova have proven very hard to beat and we know they will be hard to beat on Friday night and I will need my best players.

"I think we need 10 points. I think that would see us mathematically certain."

England team: Hart, Walker, Jagielka, Cahill, Cole, Gerrard, Lampard, Wilshere, Lambert, Walcott, Welbeck.

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