Tomorrow is the big fixture against England. Jovetic won't be available, but Savic most likely will. Eric Dier is out for England.
England promised 'hellish' welcome when they take on Montenegro six years after Joe Hart was pelted with missiles in World Cup qualifying clash
Montenegro's notorious 'ultras' are threatening a 'hellish' welcome for England
They will host England when they meet in Monday's Euro 2020 qualifier
Previous games have seen players hit with missiles and clashes among fans
Montenegro's notorious 'ultra' fans are threatening a 'hellish' welcome for England in Monday's Euro 2020 qualifier.
The warning comes six years after goalkeeper Joe Hart was hit by an array of missiles and Ashley Cole was spat at when the two countries last met in Podgorica.
The World Cup qualifier in 2013 also saw violent clashes among fans and one English supporter left with a bloody head wound.
Montenegro's notorious 'ultra' fans are threatening a 'hellish' welcome for England
The warning comes six years after goalkeeper Joe Hart was hit by missiles in Podgorica
Steven Gerrard was also pelted and Ashley Cole was spat at when the two countries last met
Two years earlier Montenegro were fined Ł30,000 following a pitch invasion when a fixture between the two teams ended in 2-2 draw.
Now a group called Crnogorska Navijacka Scena (CNS) has posted a warning ahead of next week's game on their Instagram page, the 'Official Account of Montenegrin Ultras'.
It said: 'We welcome the Englishmen in Podgorica, we expect a hellish atmosphere, as well as every time they come. Just win! Only Montenegro! Everyone!'
The CNS social media site regularly posts images of hooliganism from around the world.
Attacks by Montenegro fans have included a seat being thrown at the Poland goalkeeper in 2012, and in 2015 the Russia keeper was struck on the back of the head with a flare, forcing the Euro 2016 qualifier to be abandoned.
Montenegro will host England when they meet in Monday's Euro 2020 qualifier
The World Cup qualifier in 2013 saw flares and smoke bombs set off and clashes among fans
Smoke billows out across the stadium in the Montenegrin capital during a game in 2013
In 2017, three Red Star Belgrade fans were badly beaten up at the train station in Podgorica. Passengers claimed that Montenegrin fans were waiting for them armed with sticks and baseball bats, launching their attack on the command of a masked fan.
Enhanced security around next week's match means that all England tickets need to be printed with members' names, and only fans with a valid match ticket with their name on it will be allowed into the stadium. Of 2,700 fans who have registered for tickets, just 650 have been allocated by ballot.
A heavy police presence is expected, amid fears that fans could also be sucked into anti-government protests due just as the England fans arrive in Podgorica on Saturday.
Last weekend's rally saw protestors with whistles and sirens chanting 'Milo thief'. It is the fifth such rally in two months to demand the resignation of President Milo Djukanovic and his government over claims of abuse of office, corruption and cronyism.
Attacks by Montenegro fans have been a regular feature in games during recent years
Djukanovic has ruled the country for over three decades, refusing to relinquish his grip on power despite international pressure.
This month a businessman, who accused the president of corruption, was forced to flee to London, saying he feared for his safety.
Dusko Knezevic, owner of Atlas Bank, has since claimed that he is being followed on the streets of London and intimidated by criminal gangs.
An FA spokesperson said: 'As is the case with all international fixtures, The FA will continue to work closely with UEFA and relevant authorities in the host country.'
England must contend with harsh memories when facing Montenegro
Gareth Southgate’s team should be ready for hostility in their European Championship Qualifying match at Gradski Stadion where Wayne Rooney was sent off in 2011
Gradski Stadion is one of Europe’s less accommodating venues for international football. Only around 15,000 will cram into Montenegro’s home ground to see if England can be overcome on Monday but they will make the noise of a crowd double the size.
The stands at either end are concrete, compact and severe, hemmed close to the bylines in a manner reminiscent of Loftus Road. The home fans have a reputation for pushing the boundaries and England have found their limits tested in previous visits.
Only Kyle Walker remains from the squad who travelled in 2013 and returned bruised by a late equaliser from Dejan Damjanovic. That was low-key fare compared with what passed 17 months previously on a night that brought Montenegro as close to success as they have been since being granted Uefa membership in January 2007.
On a chaotic evening that had started serenely England lost their way. Ashley Young and Darren Bent seemed to have put them in an impregnable position but then Elsad Zverotic pulled one back, Wayne Rooney lost his head and was sent off and Andrija Delibasic sparked a pitch invasion by levelling in stoppage time. The point took England to Euro 2012 anyway; it gave Montenegro a play-off spot, too, but they still await qualification for a major finals and will need to upset the odds again.
“Things that happen in the past are just nice results for Montenegro,” said their manager, the veteran former Partizan Belgrade coach Ljubisa Tumbakovic. His side began their qualifying campaign respectably on Friday in Sofia, ending up unfortunate to draw 1-1 with Bulgaria when their hosts were awarded an 82nd-minute penalty for a challenge Vladimir Jovovic appeared to have made outside the area. “When you concede a goal after the referee’s mistake it’s hard not to comment on it,” said the midfielder Marko Jankovic. Tumbakovic admitted they had “lost two points” but also said their priority had been to depart unbeaten.
That aim having been achieved, an inconsistent Montenegro can legitimately sense an opportunity. Group A of the Euro 2020 qualifiers has a curious feel; England are overwhelming favourites but an argument could be made for any of the Czech Republic, Bulgaria, Kosovo and Tumbakovic’s team making second place. All fall into the “banana skin” category and, while results against England may not be decisive, any major improvement on Czech Republic’s hammering at Wembley should breed optimism.
“I’m really trying but I can’t,” Tumbakovic said when asked if he could pinpoint a weakness in the England party. “We in the coaching team are realistic.” But he will be aware England have floundered before in Gradski Stadion. Montenegro have few recognisable names, especially with Stevan Jovetic sidelined, but Tumbakovic suggested Stefan Savic – the Atlético Madrid centre-back and, like Jovetic, once of Manchester City – is winning his battle against the injury that kept him out of Friday’s game.
Montenegro also have a striker on form. Stefan Mugosa scored a beautifully taken goal against Bulgaria, adding to three Nations League strikes last autumn. A hot prospect in his early 20s, Mugosa did not make the grade at Kaiserslautern and 1860 Munich but averages better than a goal every other game for Incheon United, his team in South Korea. “It’s a special feeling for me to play and score goals for the national team,” Mugosa said. At 27 he may now be fulfilling his potential and should partner the tricky Fatos Beciraj, a veteran of that historic match in 2011, up front.
This is a workmanlike side in the main and England can improve on previous outcomes if they master the heat from behind the goalmouths. Montenegro were fined for their fans’ celebrations after the comeback from two down and Joe Hart was among those targeted with missiles on England’s next visit, with brawls also breaking out between home supporters.
“The history of our duels tells us we can compete,” Jankovic said of the on-pitch skirmishes. Montenegro are rarely rolled over and, as a minimum, England must expect another fight.
'I'm really trying but I can't': Montenegro coach struggling to find weakness in England team ahead of Euro 2020 qualifier
Montenegro, with a population little bigger than Newcastle’s, have a habit of punching above their weight when England visit. Yet, *despite sucker-punch draws at the Gradski Stadion in 2011 and 2013, their head coach has given his side little hope on Monday night.
Montenegro, who joined Uefa only in 2007, were on a four-match losing streak before their draw in Bulgaria on Friday and Ljubisa Tumbakovic said on Sunday that his side could not spot a weakness in Gareth Southgate’s in-form side.
“I’m really trying, but I can’t,” he said. “We in the coaching team are realistic. Things that happen in the past are just nice results for Montenegro, tomorrow we will play a match with totally different players, new coaches, with different *capabilities and different ideas from both teams.”
Montenegro has a population of just over 600,000 and is the smallest of the former Yugoslavian states. Its football team are proud to have lost only once against England since 2006. However, last year was a season to forget.
Hopes of 2018 World Cup qualification had been dashed after defeats in their final two fixtures, against Denmark and Poland. The Nations League campaign was disappointing, too, as they won just two of six matches.
There would be a further blow ahead of the Bulgaria match as star forward and captain Stevan Jovetic, formerly of Manchester City, *withdrew due to a knee injury.
While Czech Republic forward Matej Vydra suggested Leicester City defender Harry Maguire might have been a “weak link” ahead of England’s 5-0 triumph at Wembley on Friday, Tumbakovic disagreed. The head coach said his team would have to improve on their 1-1 draw with Bulgaria to get anything out of England.
“The start of the qualifiers, the first game, brings its own importance, its own responsibilities,” he said. “There were special nerves in the players from both teams, that is why there was a lack of quality that would have made that game more beautiful than it was.
“Our performance in the second half was a lot better, but still far away from the quality of football Montenegro can show. That is why I believe this second game will be at a higher level than the first – the model and the way England play is something special.”
England have not played Montenegro since qualification for the 2014 World Cup, when they won 4-1 at Wembley. This time, Southgate has warned of an “intense” atmosphere and he can be assured of no shortage of noise from a raucous 15,000 crowd. Six years ago, goalkeeper Joe Hart was hit by a missile from the stands, while Ashley Cole was spat at.
Tumbakovic has been in charge since January 2016, having won silverware with Shandong Luneng, where he lifted two Chinese Super League titles in between spells in Saudi Arabia and Iran. He is trying to rebuild Montenegro with younger talent. However, the tiny pool is perhaps exposed most by their goalkeeper, Danijel Petkovic, who has been on the bench for French second division club Lorient since the turn of the year.
Many of the players who forced three draws against England this decade are now retired, including the former Roma favourite Mirko Vucinic. Dejan Damjanovic, the last Montenegrin to score against England, is 37 and winding down his career in South Korea.
Security fears for England's European Qualifier in Montenegro
Southgate said: "We always encourage fans to get tickets through official channels because it makes it more difficult for us to help"
There are security concerns for England's European Qualifier in Montenegro with travelling fans buying tickets for the home end, Sky Sports News has learned.
Gareth Southgate's team are in action again on Monday night after they kicked off their qualification campaign with a 5-0 win over the Czech Republic at Wembley on Friday.
However, there are worries over fan trouble with some Montenegro fans selling their tickets to England supporters.
Tickets with a face value of €10 are being sold for €40.
That has led to security concerns at the tiny Gradski Stadium. The last time England played there six years ago, goalkeeper Joe Hart was targeted with missiles and flares from the crowd and defender Ashley Cole was spat at.
The Football Supporters Federation has told SSN they think an extra 300 England fans will be in Podgorica without tickets, on top of the 600 England supporters with official tickets in the away end.
There are concerns that some England fans may try to buy tickets in the North Stand, where Montenegro's Ultras are housed.
It is understood some England fans have already bought tickets in the less volatile South Stand via official channels.
They applied through the Montenegrin FA, were asked for their UK passport details, and were still sold tickets.
Speaking in Sunday evening's pre-match press conference, England's head coach was asked if he was concerned with the situation.
"We've done the best we can to make sure our official tickets have gone to England's travelling members," Southgate said.
"We would always encourage fans to get tickets through official channels because it makes it more difficult for us to help them."
Regarding the prospect of the team coping in such a hostile environment, Southgate added: "We are guests are so we are being very respectful but our players always have to be prepared.
"We always prepare players for everything. Most important is we are preparing tactically and making sure our performance levels are high."
A security meeting is due to take place on Sunday evening where the Montenegrin FA and local police will decide their policy on away supporters trying to get into the home stands.
The Football Supprters Trust is advising any England fans attending the game outside of the designated away seats to avoid wearing England shirts.
The FA's policy has always been to try to dissuade any England fans without tickets from travelling to away matches, and certainly not to buy tickets in the home stands.