credit: REUTERS

Former Arsenal striker Alan Smith believes England cannot ignore Sweden's Zlatan Ibrahimovic, despite the striker's mediocre record against English sides.

Ibrahimovic has scored just three times in 15 appearances against Premier League opposition but the forward was Sweden's most dangerous player against Ukraine on Monday. He scored, hit a post with a header and set up a glorious chance that substitute Johan Elmander should have converted late on to rescue a point for Sweden.

The AC Milan forward no longer plays as a target man for his country and instead operates in a deeper role, behind a lone forward, in the same position Wayne Rooney is used by England. He is given license to drift deeper in search of the ball and Smith believes England could struggle to contain the forward unless there are clear lines of communication between England's two holding midfielders, Scott Parker and Steven Gerrard, and the centre-back pairing.

"In his new role off the front man, Ibrahimovic requires very close attention," Smith told the Telegraph. "He is someone who can turn the game in an instant with his fearsome strength, silky control and thunderous shot. Parker cannot afford to get involved in a physical scrap because there will be only one winner.

"Instead, England's anchor-man must try to play it clever by cutting off Ibrahimovic's supply line through sound positioning and good anticipation."

Ibrahimovic has scored in each of Sweden's last four matches and Roy Hodgson believes the talismanic striker poses the biggest threat to his unbeaten record as England manager.

"They are organised as a result of years of work based on English coaching," said Hodgson. "Their major weapon is Ibrahimovic - he is one of the best strikers in European football."

England will be particularly wary of the threat posed by Sweden from dead-ball situations, with Hamren's side possessing the tallest squad at Euro 2012.

"For a team boasting few creative players, Sweden understandably work hard on their set pieces, whether it's hurling long throw-ins towards Olof Mellberg, or Seb Larsson swinging in accurate free-kicks towards the huge Ibrahimovic," added Smith.

"None of this, however, should surprise England whose players face such threats back home week after week. And if they can deal with these set pieces, Roy Hodgson's side will move one step closer to the right result."