Weblog: The football punter

Qualifying specialists look worth following

ENGLAND’S attempt to rebuild after Euro 2016 embarrassment starts in Slovakia where the Three Lions need to show there is actually life after James Milner.

It’ll be hard because, as we all know, there are no easy games in international football which should please the bloke who kept Sunderland up, who seems to thrive in a crisis.

Sam Allardyce’s first job was to take an axe to the squad who let down their country in the summer – or that should have been his first job. Instead he decided to reward one of the serial offenders with another stint in the captain’s armband. Still, Milner’s gone, so that’s showed ‘em who’s boss, eh?

Now the real hard yards start and the only surprise is that Lee Cattermole hasn’t been drafted in to show world football what it’s been missing. Maybe Allardyce just needs to get his size 10s under the table first.

England, given that what they do in qualifying is always unrecognisable from what they do in major finals, actually look a very decent bet in Trnava.

Czech Republic fall into a similar category as England having topped a brute of a group to get to France only to finish bottom of a group once they got there.

Their qualifying expertise means they will probably have too much for Northern Ireland but now I’m scouring the coupon for something at meatier odds to dine out on. And that means Port Vale at Bury in Sky Bet League One.

Pre-empting Brexit, Vale’s owners decided to scour Europe to build a team in Burslem and the early signs are encouraging. There are probably as many translators as tea ladies at Vale Park these days but ten points from five outings suggest the big knobs there know what they’re doing.

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Match in Focus

12:15 Sa 3Sep SS1

Peterborough v Swindon

Home Win Draw Away Win
Key stats
  • Peterborough were top scorers at home in League One last season
Expert verdict
Peterborough have won three of their first five outings in League One, including a 5-1 victory over Millwall that made the division sit up and listen. They may not currently boast the best of records against Swindon, losing four of their last five meetings with the Robins, but Posh should put that right on Saturday against visitors who have failed to convince in the new campaign. Swindon have yet to win on the road and struggled towards the end of last season, winning just two of their final 12 games.