Liverpool forward Daniel Sturridge, who missed England’s 4-0 victory over Moldova on Friday, has been ruled out of the next match against Ukraine with a thigh injury. The striker has been excellent for his club thus far this season, scoring the solitary goal in each of Liverpool’s 1-0 victories in the league. Sturridge also scored two in the League Cup victory over Notts County, putting his total at five goals in four matches.
The Reds will undoubtedly be displeased at the injury to their star performer, but Sturridge being ruled out puts quite a strain on England as well. Danny Welbeck, who scored twice against Moldova, will have to sit out the match with a suspension. Wayne Rooney and Andy Carroll are carrying injuries. Roy Hodgson is not going to call up a replacement.
That leaves Rickie Lambert and Jermain Defoe to carry the forward burden against Ukraine on Tuesday. Lambert added another to England’s tally, and is considered a bright spot in the Three Lions attack. Defoe did score against Moldova in the reverse fixture last September, but has sat, unused, on the England bench since. He scored twice in Tottenham Hotspur’s 3-0 Europa League victory over Dinamo Tbilisi, but has only been seen off the bench for Spurs’ league matches.
In other words, Defoe is likely not the man England would choose to rely upon in a match of such importance. England managed to retake the lead in Group H, leading Montenegro on goal difference and edging Ukraine by just a point. In other words, a result in Kiev is of highest importance. Without Welbeck and Sturridge, will England be able to succeed?