Dave Tindall looks at Thursday's Euro 2020 encounter between England and Montenegro where the home side must win without eight goal forward Raheem Sterling...

England v Montenegro
Thursday, 19:45
Live on ITV1

England distracted again

England's qualifying campaign can be divided pretty much into two parts.
They opened it in breezy fashion, cruising through their first three games with an aggregate scoreline of 14-1 after 5-0 (Czech Republic at home), 5-1 (Montenegro away) and 4-0 (Bulgaria home) victories. All good. Better than good to be honest.
But then things started to become more problematic.
They conceded a first-minute goal to Kosovo, roared back with five goals to lead 5-1 at the break but lost the second-half 2-0 as the devil-may-care attitude of the visitors threatened to produce an astonishing fightback.
Next, England headed to the Czech Republic; not a poor team but one the Three Lions would expect to chew up and spit out.
Despite taking a fifth-minute lead, they were totally disjointed and lost 2-1.
Then there was the unsavoury episode in Bulgaria where events off the pitch dominated. Would and should England walk off if they faced racial abuse? With all the distractions, Gareth Southgate's men did well to keep focus and blast the hosts 6-0.
But just when England were expecting to sail into calmer waters, Thursday night's home game with Montenegro has been overshadowed by the spat between Raheem Sterling and Joe Gomez.
The "disturbance" in the canteen at England's training base at St George's Park with emotions still running high after Sunday's Liverpool v Manchester City showdown has led to Southgate dropping Sterling for Thursday's game.
A draconian action perhaps but team spirit is such a huge thing for Southgate that he clearly thought he had to stamp on the unrest with the firmest of boots.

Montenegro yet to win

In terms of the FIFA rankings, Montenegro are ranked joint 61st.
They share that spot with Bulgaria - a team England have just walloped 6-0 in Sofia.
That's a quick shortcut to their standing on the world stage and a look at the group table shows that the visitors are not in a false position.
They've failed to win any of their seven games so far, managing three draws - 1-1 and 0-0 against Bulgaria and a 1-1 draw at home to Kosovo.
In terms of goals, they've netted just three and conceded 15.

Easy for England but how many?

England are just 1.10 to get the win, the price moving out a fraction following SterlingGomez-gate.
Montenegro are a whopping 36.00 to pull off a shock victory while The Draw is 14.50.
There's a big jump from that basic win price to England taking victory while letting in a goal. England and Both teams to Score is 3.25 but is that enough? Montenegro have managed just a single away goal in three games and that was at rock-bottom Bulgaria in their opening match.
It's true that the hosts have had some wobbles at the back but this should really be a win to nil job although the price of 1.55 is unappealing.
Instead, the idea that England won't concede should be carried into some correct scoreline punts.
Sterling's absence has certainly affected my thinking a little here as I was planning a simple 'Any Other Home Win' punt at 2.18. Basically that requires England scoring four or more in victory.
England have won 5-0, 5-1, 4-0, 5-3 and 6-0 but take out Sterling's goals and those wins become 2-0, 4-1, 3-0 and 4-3 and 4-0.
True, they've still hit the four-goal mark three times although Sterling has obviously provided assists and caused chaos with his movement to allow others to net.
Overall, it means I might just downgrade to 3-0 whilst having a saver on 'Any Other Home Win'.
Montenegro lost 3-0 in the Czech Republic and 2-0 away to lively Kosovo so they're not hopeless on the road.

Goalscorer prices prohibitive

Not surprisingly, the prices on England players finding the net are fairly grim.
Harry Kane is just 3/10 on the Sportsbook, the other possible strikers are clear odds-on while even Harry Maguire is just 4s to presumably nut one in from a corner.
Trent Alexander-Arnold at 6s? The Liverpool man may just be at the front of the queue for free-kicks outside the box and he netted for England against the USA this time last year.

Opta stat

Should England striker Harry Kane score two goals in this match, he will become only the ninth player to score 30 goals for the Three Lions and have done so in just 44 caps, becoming the third quickest to 30 goals in England's history behind only Nat Lofthouse (32 caps) and Jimmy Greaves (33).

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