England should complete preparations with a morale-boosting victory.
After giving the kids among his shadow squad a run out against Ecuador on Wednesday, Roy Hodgson’s line-up for England’s final World Cup warm-up against Honduras is likely to be a more familiar one.
Defensively, England certainly need more practice. It’s been their best feature in recent years – one remembers Sol Campbell, Rio Ferdinand and John Terry all excelling in major tournaments – and they were resolute in qualifying for Brazil this year. But there were jitters against Peru last week and the second string didn’t do themselves many favours in Miami earlier this week.
Phil Jones was possibly an exception and Everton midfielder Ross Barkley also looked comfortable against Ecuador but Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain was the star of the show. The Arsenal winger limped off after a second-half challenge, however, he will now miss the World Cup leaving Hodgson with the dilemma of whom to play on the left of midfield.
Wayne Rooney and Danny Welbeck could fill in but both are happier in a more central role. Raheem Stirling is another alternative but the coach is denied a final look at him by his red card against Ecuador.
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Honduras are also heading to Brazil after a final 90 minutes of preparation so will be fielding a relatively strong line-up likely to include Stoke’s Wilson Palacios and Maynor Figueroa of Hull City. Wigan’s Juan Carlos Garcia is also part of Luis Fernando Suarez’ squad, as is Celtic’s Emilio Izaguirre, but their build-up to the tournament has not gone well so far.
They’ve been easily beaten by Turkey and Israel recently and have only managed two clean sheets in their last nine internationals which suggests a near full-strength England should have few problems gaining a morale-boosting victory before the serious action gets under way next week.
It’s 2/5 that Steven Gerrard and his team-mates complete preparations with a win and they can be backed at 3/1 to hold a two-goal advantage at the final whistle.
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