Englandare approaching a massive double header – and I fancy them to come through their World Cup qualifiers with Montenegro and Poland and book their trip to Brazil next year.
It’s tight at the top of Group H, and going into the final two rounds of games, Roy Hodgson’s side could qualify, land in the play-offs or miss out altogether.
But England hold the aces, because they are clear at the top of the pool, have by far the best goal difference (22 to the 15 of second-placed Ukraine and seven of Montenegro, in third), are still unbeaten, and are at home for both games.
They could well have to pick up maximum points, because you’d expect Ukraine to best Poland at home on Friday and certainly win in San Marino the Tuesday after, having thumped them 9-0 at home.
But I think a six-point haul is well within their capability, and it could be that the late Frank Lampard penalty which sealed a Wembley draw with Ukraine could prove crucial.
England, of course, also drew with Ukraine in Kiev last time out, and that was a performance which showed their mettle.
Hodgson came in for some criticism in the wake of the game, but while the display was unadventurous, it was sensible in the circumstances.
It’s a 10-game qualification process, and Hodgson, without a key attacking player in Wayne Rooney, knew a point would benefit his side more than Ukraine.
I also think Hodgson is right in keeping faith with Joe Hart, despite his slip-ups in Manchester City’s Champions League defeat by the highly impressive Bayern Munich.
Keepers are always in the spotlight, and their mistakes are magnified more than those by outfield players because they so often result in goals.
But he is still a very good, and experienced player, and don’t forget he kept clean sheets in both his last two England games.
But while I think we will get to Brazil, I think we have to be realistic about our chances there, because there are far better sides around.
I'm really looking forward to the latest Ashes series and while it certainly won't be easy, I think we have a fantastic opportunity to do the business in the Aussies’ backyard, just like in 2010.
And wouldn't that be sweet?
I commented last week on the pleasure of seeing Yorkshire so well represented after the inclusion of Gary Ballance as well as Joe Root and Jonny Bairstow in the squad.
But of course county rivalries will be put to one side as we bid to follow up that 3-0 summer success and retain the urn - again!
It’s strange that the two series are so close together, but I think it adds even more spice to the forthcoming five Test matches, starting in Brisbane next month.
It has to be said that the Aussies are going through a tough time by their usually high standards.
And doubts over the fitness of their skipper Michael Clarke (inset), who has a long-standing back problem, will have done little to improve matters.
But they are proud and fiercely competitive, and any victories will have to be earned.
And while our 3-0 series win looks fairly comprehensive, it was only really the second Test a Lord’s which was won at a canter, with the Aussies improving over the course of the series.
That said, I think they are short on real match- winners, especially with the bat.
Therefore I expect to be celebrating come the end of he fifth and final Test in Sydney in January.
Talk about a sporting all-rounder!
I’ll be swinging the clubs in our Town golf day at Fixby today, then heading into the gym tomorrow to continue preparations for our fight night in conjunction with Rawthorpe Amateur Boxing Club.
It takes place at the stadium on Friday, November 13, and I’m still not sure how I got myself into the situation of having to step into the ring.
That itself could be tricky, because there’s an art to getting between those ropes, especially for people with knees like mine!
I spoke to Darren Bullock the other day, and he’s well up for the challenge of facing Mark Reynolds, the Rawthorpe coach.
I’m not so confident, but I’m determined to see this through!
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