ENGLAND will face Poland tomorrow night without Ashley Cole, with the Chelsea left-back’s rib injury ensuring he misses both of the Three Lions’ final Group H World Cup qualifiers.
Cole was replaced by Leighton Baines for England’s convincing 4-1 win against Montenegro at the end of last week, having been injured in Chelsea’s away victory at Norwich the previous weekend.
And the Football Association confirmed yesterday that Cole, who has 105 caps for his country, has not recovered in time to fight for his place against Poland.
Manager Roy Hodgson last week called up Arsenal left-back Kieran Gibbs to the squad as back-up for the more experienced Baines.
And yesterday Baines, who has been in excellent form for Everton so far this season, backed Tottenham’s Andros Townsend to produce more sparkling performances for the national team.
Townsend’s inclusion in the starting XI against Montenegro raised some eyebrows, yet was justified as the winger played a crucial part in England’s win.
“He has shown he can produce match-winning performances which is great for the manager,” Baines said.
“It was an outstanding performance for him to come in and play like that. He will be able to keep that goal with him forever,” he added, referring to Townsend’s 78th minute strike to make it 3-1.
Poland captain Jakub Blaszczykowski promised yesterday that his team will give England a fight, despite not being able to qualify for Brazil 2014 themselves. “It doesn’t matter that we only have honour to play for. Matches at Wembley are always very important to us,” he said.