Capello facing right-back dilemma as Vucinic looks to hang left

As England prepare to face Montenegro in Friday's crucial Euro 2012 qualifier,'s Michael Cox uses FFT's StatsZone app to gauge what might happen

With Chris Smalling out of action for tonight’s game in Montenegro, Fabio Capello looks likely to choose between Micah Richards and Phil Jones at right-back.

By comparing a fixture both have played this season in that position, away at Bolton, we can look at the differences in their positioning and characteristics.

In truth, neither had a great deal to do against a Bolton side enduring a miserable start to the campaign, but there are clear differences in their attacking play.

Jones is much more likely to dribble past an opponent, as shown with the four orange hexagons up and down the right flank indicating ‘take-ons’. Richards, meanwhile, doesn’t beat a player in the entire game.

As a result, Jones is far more likely to get into the final third, but his passing when level with the edge of the opposition penalty area is often wayward. Both players picked up an assist - illustrated by the yellow pass; Jones with a long cross, and Richards with a cut-back to the edge of the box.

Defensively, Jones is a little more proactive than Richards – his interceptions take place higher up the pitch, though Richards makes two successful tackles, whereas Jones’ only attempt was unsuccessful.

Reports suggest Danny Welbeck will be Wayne Rooney’s strike partner, but either Andy Carroll or Bobby Zamora are likely to be on the bench as a tall ‘plan B’ who can hold the ball up and bring others into play, should England need a more direct route.

Based on their games last weekend, Zamora would be the better option here (although the two were playing in very different circumstances – a 6-0 home win for Zamora’s Fulham side, compared to a tight, cagey Merseyside derby for Carroll).

Still, Zamora is more involved in play, more reliable with his passing, and also contributed two assists. With both netting at the weekend – as did Welbeck and Darren Bent – Capello has some in-form strikers to choose from to play alongside Rooney.

We can also use Stats Zone to take a look at who England will be up against. Forward Mirko Vucinic, who made the journey north from Roma to Juventus in the summer, will be one of the main dangers with his dribbling and direct running.

As shown by his dashboards from last season’s Champions League, Vucinic is a forward that likes to drift out wide to the left from a central starting position. For Montenegro, he’s often used up front with support from Fiorentina’s Stevan Jovetic, though he started the last game on the left of a 4-2-3-1. Either way, he’s likely to come into contact with England’s right-back throughout the game.

The image also shows his fondness for shooting from long range – five times in two games he had an attempt from outside the box.

Montenegro manager Branko Brnovic has a wealth of forward options available to him, including Fatos Beciraj, a player who is popular locally, as he played for Buducnost Podgorica until last year.

He’s now at Dinamo Zagreb, and recently played in a Champions League game against Lyon. He had little impact on that match, however, completing only eight passes and managing to give away four free-kicks, as represented by the black triangles.

Manchester City new boy Stefan Savic hasn’t played enough games in the Premier League for us to consider his performances accurately through Stats Zone, but he did play for Partizan Belgrade in last season’s Champions League, also now available through the app. He was fielded a couple of times at right-back (including against Arsenal), but more often at centre-back.

His defensive performance is reasonably impressive, but it’s notable how wayward his distribution is when forced to play it downfield – sideways passes are usually successful, but balls into the opposition half are generally intercepted. England might consider closing him down, to force him into hurried passes and conceding possession.

Stats Zone, the app from FourFourTwo powered by data from Opta, is available now at the iTunes App Store