• World Cup qualifiers

Sturridge to miss Moldova clash

ESPN staff
September 5, 2013
Daniel Sturridge has scored five goals in four games for Liverpool this season © Getty Images

Daniel Sturridge has been ruled out of England's World Cup qualifier against Moldova on Friday, with Rickie Lambert to be handed his first international start.

Sturridge now faces a race against time to prove his fitness for Tuesday's crucial clash with Ukraine.

The withdrawal leaves Roy Hodgson's options up front limited, with Wayne Rooney also unavailable after suffering a severe cut to his head in Manchester United training last week.

Hodgson also has problems at the back. Steven Caulker - who was called up to the squad after Glen Johnson and Phil Jones suffered injuries in Sunday's clash between Liverpool and United - will miss out on Friday after turning his ankle in training, but like Sturridge could be back to play a part against Ukraine.

Hodgson said: "We won't know until training on Sunday if Daniel Sturridge will be fit for the Ukraine game.

"We've not been lucky with injuries, we've lost five players, but it's an opportunity for others and up to them to do a job."

Sturridge has netted five goals in four games after a red-hot start for Liverpool this season, including the winner against United that took his side to the top of the Premier League.

However the striker has admitted he was not 100 per cent fit for the match, even restraining himself from long-range efforts on goal because of a thigh injury.

Hodgson may not have too much cause for concern with Sturridge's absence on Friday, however, with England never having lost to Moldova, thrashing them 5-0 last year. But Ukraine will provide a much stiffer test - defeat would deal a severe blow to England's hopes of qualifying for next year's World Cup in Brazil.

England are two points behind group leaders Montenegro but have a game in hand, while Ukraine are in third place, a point off Hodgson's side.

But Hodgson remained bullish on England's qualifying chances. He said: "I would say we need ten points from four games as long as we don't lose to Ukraine and we beat Montenegro."

The FA have confirmed Sturridge will return to Liverpool to receive treatment, but he could rejoin the England squad if his injury improves.

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