Kane can build on dream debut with first England start in Italy
England have not beaten Italy away since 1961, and will have to play them in Turin without six-goal Euro 2016 qualifying top scorer Danny Welbeck.
Coral make the Three Lions 11/5 chances to add to two victories in the last dozen head-to-heads in this prestige friendly, as Roy Hodgson has only 17 outfield players to choose from to fill 10 starting spots.
Leighton Baines, James Milner and Raheem Sterling are all missing this trip, but the Azzurri are far from full strength themselves with midfield quartet Daniele De Rossi, Claudio Marchisio, Riccardo Montolivo and Andrea Pirlo all omitted.
Antonio Conte’s side are nonetheless 7/5 favourites for victory, and has captain Gianluigi Buffon back from illness to return in goal. Italy’s national coach has confirmed his starting XI, rigidly adhering to his 3-5-2 philosophy:
— Italy (@azzurri) March 30, 2015
Buffon’s Juventus teammates Leonardo Bonucci and Giorgio Chiellini are retained in defence, alongside another Turin-based player in the versatile Matteo Darmian, who currently plays his club football across town and switches flanks to left wing back.
Roma’s Alessandro Florenzi will be down the other side, while Inter Milan captain Andrea Ranocchia comes in for Andrea Barzagli, who looked rusty against Bulgaria after eight months out with ankle and heel problems, at centre half.
Conte has included a couple of foreign-born players in his XI to watch out for. Like England’s man of the moment Harry Kane, Sampdoria striker Eder, who is from Brazil, grabbed a goal on his Italy debut off the bench last time out. It’s 7/4 he nets anytime and 6/1 to score last again.
Eder is partnered by Southampton striker Graziano Pelle, who is experiencing a serious goal drought (one in 16) under Ronald Koeman. Conte is prepared to overlook this loss of form, but punters will rightly feel Pelle is short in the anytime market at 5/4.
Marco Parolo (Lazio), Empoli anchorman Mirko Valdifiori and German-born Roberto Soriano (Sampdoria) make up the midfield trio. With just 10 caps between them, this is the weakest-looking Italian engine room on paper for many years.
Switching to a midfield diamond has been mooted by some pundits as tactical nuance the Three Lions must consider, with what is a golden opportunity to beat the Azzurri at their own game. Hodgson has pledged to field some fringe players, which means there may be a debut for Tottenham’s Ryan Mason in the middle of the park.
England must make a change at left back with Baines sidelined, leaving it between Arsenal’s Kieran Gibbs and late call-up Ryan Bertrand, who joined Pelle at St Mary’s on a permanent basis this winter, competing for that berth.
Since replacing Fabio Capello three years ago, Hodgson has a friendly win and two tournament losses against the Azzurri on his CV, though only one of those in 90 minutes.
While the Three Lions cruised past Lithuania 4-0 in Euro 2016 qualifying last time out, Conte’s men recorded their second successive competitive draw. A third share of the spoils in four internationals for the Azzurri is 11/5 shot here.
Despite the absence of Welbeck and Sterling in the visiting attack, Spurs striker Kane had a dream senior England debut, scoring 80 seconds after coming on. Tasty enhanced odds of 3/1 say he will net again, on what will be his first start, anytime. Please note there is a maximum stake of £20 on this special bet.
Lions captain Wayne Rooney, meanwhile, has been on target in five successive internationals and boasts seasonal stats of seven in seven for his country. Back him to lead by example again and score once more at 6/4.
It’s intriguing to see what both of these European elite have in reserve. There were signs that reported Liverpool target Ciro Immobile (5/4 anytime) could strike up a partnership with Eder’s former club teammate Manolo Gabbiadini (better at 7/4), who signed for Napoli in the winter window, so both may get some action as substitutes.
Alessio Cerci (15/8) and Simone Zaza (also 7/4) complete the Italian attacking options. There may be an Azzurri bow for Argentine-born Palermo playmaker Franco Vazquez, as other creative threats Marco Verratti (PSG) and Lazio star Antonio Candreva look set to be rested much to English relief.
Arsenal winger Theo Walcott (11/4) and Tottenham counterpart Andros Townsend (7/2) are the only other fit forwards for the visitors, though Everton’s Ross Barkley recently said his best position is playing as far forward as possible. Odds of 5/1 say he shall prove that to Hodgson by netting anytime.
Backing a Three Lions win with both teams scoring could be tasty at 11/2, while a 2-1 away victory rewards punters with temptingly long odds of 33/1. This is not historically a high-scoring fixture, so an alternative is total goals being under 1.5 at 13/8.