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The apprehension is easy to understand given the often painful progress towards Brazil, but it is all too easy to overlook the fact that England can all but qualify for the 2014 World Cup on Friday. Amid all the nervousness prompted by reaching the last two matches without a victory over worthwhile opposition in Group H, we should not ignore the fact that three points against Montenegro combined with a Poland win in Ukraine would take Roy Hodgson's teams to the finals with a match to spare, unless Poland come to Wembley next Tuesday and win about 6-0.
Such a pair of favourable results on Friday is not that improbable. England have not beaten Montenegro in three attempts but the former Yugoslav republic bring a weakened team to Wembley. Bookmakers' odds are not simple estimations of the likelihood of an outcome but reflections of financial risk and liable to be skewed by home money, but England - as you would roughly expect - are a 4-11 shot (Montenegro 15-2, the draw 15-4).
Ukraine will be backed by a crowd when Poland visit Kharkiv, after FIFA allowed an appeal to postpone a possible crowd ban following racists incidents at last month's San Marino game. Following a correctly ruled out offside winner against Montenegro but also a clear penalty missed by the same official, Poland's hopes are all but dead. Their goal difference is much too poor and they trail Ukraine - who face San Marino in their final match - by three points. Nonetheless, an away win in Kharkiv is a 15-4 shot.
Even a draw for Poland - which is on offer at 12-5 - would be a massive help to England. Accompanied by a Wembley defeat for Montenegro, such a result would leave Hodgson's men needing merely a draw against an eliminated Poland in the final game. With a goal difference advantage in such circumstances of at least seven for Ukraine to make up, even a narrow England defeat to Poland could still leave Hodgson bruised but on top of Group H next Tuesday night.
The performance in Kiev was soporifically disappointing, the concession of equalisers in Podgorica and Warsaw frustrating. There has been some ill luck - Danny Welbeck's suspension for Kiev came for two bookings, the first of which should have led to a potentially decisive penalty in Podgorica and the second was in effect for having a shot taken before the whistle blew - but across four matches against the group's half-decent opposition England should have had sufficient margin for misfortune or error in at least a couple of them.
But this remains an unbeaten campaign and, though Ukraine are only 11-4 to win Group H, England are and should be hot favourites.
Steve McClaren would have welcomed being 2-5 to win the Euro 2008 group at this stage. If you are leading with two home games to go, how often do you miss out? Amid all the fear we should remember that the numbers are our friends.