England head to the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff for their Group G clash against Wales in the Euro 2012 qualifiers boosted by the news that the home side’s star player, Gareth Bale, has been ruled out through injury.
The Spurs man’s ability to hit teams on the break will have been England coach Fabio Capello’s main concern going into the match and his absence with a tight hamstring will certainly affect Wales’ chances of pulling off a shock win at 15/2.
While Bale’s no-show will send the Welsh management team back to the drawing board, Capello also has some decisions to make as his first-choice starting line-up is far from clear.
Much of the media glare has been centred on a potential midfield pairing of Scott Parker and Jack Wilshere, with the Arsenal youngster seemingly having moved ahead of Frank Lampard in the England pecking order.
However, there is also a spot alongside Wayne Rooney available up front, with Capello apparently keen to play the Manchester United forward in the hole rather than make him the focal point of attack.
Andy Carroll looked to have won the race to start the game but his lack of match fitness appears to have counted against him and Darren Bent is now seen as the more likely foil for Rooney.
Since signing for Aston Villa in January, Bent has scored three goals in eight Premier League starts for a side battling relegation, so he should thrive on the service he can expect to receive from the likes of Rooney, Wilshere, Aaron Lennon and Glen Johnson.
A successful £10 bet at bwin.com on Bent scoring the first goal of the match would return £60 at odds of 5/1.
However, recent history would suggest that England struggle to break down so-called “lesser” teams – witness their performances against Algeria and Slovenia in the group stages of last year’s World Cup – meaning a dull, scoreless draw is also an attractive proposition at 15/2.
A £10 stake on Wales to draw 0-0 with England would return £85. New customers can register here to receive a £25 free bet.