LONDON - Andriy Shevchenko will have something to prove when Ukraine attempt to jolt England's smooth progress towards the World Cup finals at Wembley on Wednesday. The 32-year-old AC Milan striker proved an expensive misfit during two forgettable seasons with Chelsea and not even a move back to San Siro has managed to rekindle the spark that made him one of Europe's most feared marksmen. He is still Ukraine's most famous footballer, however, and with an international strike rate of roughly a goal every two games he could pose the biggest threat to England in their Group Six qualifier. "Shevchenko has played very little this year -- he had lots of injuries, some poor matches, but his experience and desire are priceless for us," Ukraine coach Olexiy Mykhaylychenko said in the build-up to the game. "Young players will progress faster with him nearby." Unbeaten Ukraine are third in the group, five points behind leaders England with a game in hand and Wednesday's match is pivotal to their hopes of competing for the top spot. They arrived in England last week without Dynamo Kiev forward Artem Kravets who sustained a hamstring injury but with Bstriking talent like Shevchenko, Andriy Voronin and Evhen Seleznev, Mykhaylychenko is confident of a decent result. "We have chances of acquiring the first place in our group," he said. "I perfectly realise how strong our opponents are but now there are no invincible teams in the world." CAPELLO WARY England have never played Ukraine in a competitive fixture, winning two home friendlies without conceding a goal, but will expect a fifth consecutive victory in Group Six which would put clear daylight between themselves and their rivals with half the qualifying campaign left. They thrashed Slovakia 4-0 on Saturday in a friendly with Wayne Rooney scoring twice but coach Fabio Capello is wary of the threat of a Ukraine side that appear to be re-emerging after a post-2006 World Cup slump. He will also be aware that England were unimpressive at home against Kazakhstan in October despite a late flurry of goals. "Ukraine are a good team," the Italian said. "When they drew against Croatia they defended very well. It will not be any easier for us." Capello is not over-loaded with attacking options after losing Emile Heskey and Carlton Cole to injury although the form of Rooney, who has scored seven goals in his last four appearances for England, is a major plus. Rooney, set to win his 50th cap, could start as a lone striker with Steven Gerrard tucked in behind, while winger Aaron Lennon did enough against Slovakia to suggest he will start on the right with David Beckham offering options on the bench. Defender Rio Ferdinand hopes to have overcome a back problem to return to the side after sitting out Saturday's game. Probable teams: England: David James; Glen Johnson, Rio Ferdinand, John Terry, Ashley Cole; Aaron Lennon, Frank Lampard, Gareth Barry, Steven Gerrard, Stewart Downing; Wayne Rooney Ukraine: Andriy Pyatov; Vyacheslav Shevchuk, Dmytro Chyhrynsky, Taras Mykhalyk, Hryhoriy Yarmash; Anatoliy Tymoschuk, Serhiy Nazarenko, Evgen Levchenko, Olexandr Aliev; Andriy Voronin, Andriy Shevchenko
30 March 2009
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