“Don’t second-guess me” Roy tells media ahead of Honduras
England are widely anticipated to field a near-to full strength XI as possible against Honduras, in what could be the biggest clue yet, as to how fans can expect them to line-up for their first World Cup match against Italy.
Their final warm-up match should see a first-choice back five, along with Captain Steven Gerrard start next to Liverpool teammate Jordan Henderson in a midfield two. Further forward, Adam Lallana, Wayne Rooney and Danny Welbeck are widely predicted to start just behind Daniel Sturridge, according to sources within the England camp’s inner circle.
The Three Lions are odds-on at 4/9 to claim victory, and the biggest talking point would be whether Welbeck can justify his place if selected, following criticism after a below-par season for Manchester United. With Liverpool winger Raheem Sterling suspended due to his straight dismissal against Ecuador, it could well be whoever blossoms out of Welbeck or Southampton star Lallana that cements their starting credentials.
Manager Roy Hodgson has responded to reports within the media which are trying to second-guess his starting line-up.
“People are trying to second-guess every team and the formation,” Hodgson responded to questions asked surrounding his plans for the match against Honduras, and more importantly Italy.
“Is this the starting XI? Is he going to play this way? Is this the formation?
“But I reserve the right to put the team out that I want to play in this game [Honduras].
“If people get it wrong in trying to second-guess me, that’s their responsibility.”
Gerrard however is certain to start, and he will relish the occasion, though for altogether different reasons. The match against Honduras, who are 13/2 to win, will see him leapfrog both Alan Shearer, and John Terry to become England’s fifth longest-serving skipper.
The Reds midfielder spoke of his pride at leading his country out at a major tournament.
“This is the second time I’ve been captain at a World Cup, but this time it’s for real,” he said.
“Capello didn’t believe in me as his number one captain. He did believe in me as a player, he rated me as a player, and our relationship was fine.
“But at the time we picked the captain, he had Rio Ferdinand and John Terry and he thought they offered something different. I was third-choice up to him.
“Roy [Hodgson] has the confidence in me to be the captain this time,” added Gerrard. “I’ll enjoy it more as captain rather than vice-captain this time round, of course.”
Gerrard, who opened the scoring for his country against USA in their first match of the World Cup in South Africa four years ago, is 8/1to do so against Honduras, and 9/1 for a repeat occurrence against Italy.
After a week in which many have had their say about the mercurial Rooney, someone else has spoken out, whose words of wisdom shouldn’t be taken lightly.
Manchester United and England legend Bobby Charlton, said regarding the striker: “He’s a wonderful player, but he seems to think it’s a duty to play for England.
“I have a lot of time for him and am glad he’s playing for us rather than anyone else, but he just seems, at the moment, to be looking for too much from the rest of the team.”
Rooney may shrug off criticism from Paul Scholes, though he would be wise to listen to the knight who set Wembley alight in 1966.