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International Football Live

Tue Mar 26, 7.30-10.10pm, ITV

Having avoided that traditional banana skin, the trip to San Marino in some style on Friday night. tonight is where the real business starts for England. This visit to Montenegro is the key fixture in the group and, arguably, Roy Hodgson’s biggest test so far as England manager. Sure, the Euro 2012 quarter final against Italy was a more significant game but, with expectations at rock bottom, England had plenty of leeway to fail last summer. Now, there are no excuses.

Failure to qualify for next year’s World Cup would be disastrous for England’s reputation and Hodgson’s long-term prospects. But if England were to lose tonight, that grim prospect would become distinctly more realistic. Sadly, they’ll go into the game without Jack Wilshere, whose midfield partnership with Tom Cleverley looked so promising in the friendly victory over Brazil. A nervily fascinating prospect – one senses that, by the time Brazil 2014 comes around, England might just be a half-decent side. Whether they’ll give themselves the chance to prove it on the biggest stage could depend on tonight.