If England beats Moldova at home Friday night and then defeats Ukraine (a) and Montenegro (h), it will top Group H and qualify automatically for the World Cup finals next year. Its fate is in its own hands. The bad news is — so is Ukraine's.

You can put as much top spin as you like on possible permutations, but Roy Hodgson would rather be in Ukraine's shoes than England's. Of Ukraine's four remaining games, two are against the doormats of San Marino, as guaranteed a six points as there are in football.

Even though the visit of Moldova should present few problems, there is more pessimism than optimism about England securing a place at Brazil 2014 with three straight wins, which would make the final tie at home to Poland academic unless the Poles win their upcoming games by big margins.