- (Photo: Reuters)
England will travel to play San Marino when the pair clashes at the Serravalle Stadium on Friday as the Three Lions look to inch closer to securing a spot for the World Cup in 2014.
Roy Hodgson will look to focus his team ahead of the match after defender Rio Ferdinand declined Hodgson's invitation to represent his country. Ferdinand declined the chance to play in the World Cup qualifier due to his training and medical program that he is currently participating in for Manchester United.
England is currently considered the fourth best team in the world, according to the most recent FIFA standings. They are heavily favored to beat San Marino, who is currently ranked 207 in the world and has beaten England just once in 107 games while conceding 465 goals.
It would be wise for England's players to take this match seriously and to avoid any mental lapses against Giampaolo Mazza's team given that they will face Group H leaders Montenegro on Tuesday.
Hodgson, who scored after just 8 seconds when England faced San Marino in November 1993, has been trying to get his players to focus on the match in front of them, but has had a troublesome time doing so.
Instead of focusing on the actual game, Hodgson has been repeatedly answering questions regarding Ferdinand's choice to decline the chance to play for his country. It was reported that he accepted a job to be a commentator for a Qatari-based network for the World Cup, leading to claims that his international career is over.
The absence of Ferdinand leaves a gaping hole in the English defense, given that injuries have sidelined fellow defenders Michael Dawson, Phil Jagielka and Gary Cahill. It has since been rumored that Hodgson might use Manchester United midfielder Michael Carrick in a more defensive role in an effort to sure up England's defense.
Kick-off for the match is at 4:00 p.m. ET and can be watched online here.