English League 1

No signings rush for Johnson

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Mon, 25 Mar 2013 17:52:00

England have no injury concerns ahead of Tuesday's World Cup qualifier in Montenegro (kick-off 8pm GMT).

Roy Hodgson has confirmed Glen Johnson is fit to play after recovering from a toe injury, and the Liverpool right-back's return gives the visitors a clean bill of health going into the Group H game.

Victory would leave England top of the group, a point ahead of Montenegro with four qualifiers still to play, and Hodgson has several rested players ready to come back.

Steven Gerrard was one of several regular starters given the night off as San Marino were hammered 8-0 on Friday, and the captain will return to lead the side at the Podgorica City Stadium.

Johnson and Ashley Cole will compete with Friday's full-back's Kyle Walker and Leighton Baines for starting places, but there will be no change to the centre-back partnership of Joleon Lescott and Chris Smalling.

A defence missing the likes of Gary Cahill, Phil Jagielka and Rio Ferdinand has been indentified as an area of weakness by Montenegro striker Mirko Vucinic, but Hodgson has no concerns about his pairing.

He said: "I just remind people that Joleon Lescott helped Manchester City to their first title in 40-odd years, and in Chris Smalling we have someone who's playing regularly for the champions-elect.

"It's not as if we've been forced to pick people who don't play at the highest level and I personally trust the pair of them."

Elsewhere, Danny Welbeck is an option in attack and Michael Carrick is likely to return to the midfield, while James Milner has been used out wide in two of England's three away qualifiers and could feature again.

Frank Lampard, Ashley Young and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain are among those whose places could be under threat.

Montenegro are without injured midfielders Nikola Drincic, Milorad Pekovic and Branko Boskovic, while defender Savo Pavicevic is banned in the wake of his sending-off in Moldova on Friday.

The Glovers threw away a two-goal lead to draw 3-3 with Carlisle on Saturday and they have won just one of their last seven League One matches.

And with loan strikers Wes Fletcher and Jordan Cook having gone back to their parent clubs, the latter due to a knee injury, Johnson is weighing up his options before the loan window slams shut.

"There are lots of loans available and the reason why there are so many available is because not many clubs want them," he told the Western Morning News.

"It's very difficult to get a loan that gives you what you want because a lot of players are like that. They are just drifting through the game and drifting from club to club.

"They are good players but whether they go beyond the call of duty like you need at this stage you don't know.

"I have had a couple of loans in the past that are good players but I've not been pleased with their commitment to the cause."

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