Rooney and Milner out of position for experimental England
Roy Hodgson has already announced that Wayne Rooney, James Milner and Frank Lampard, who will be captain, will start England’s friendly against Ecuador in Miami.
The Three lions are odds-on at 5/6 to beat the South Americans, while Coral offer a special price of 9/2 for them to score three or more against them. England have won both meetings with their opposition to nil, and are 21/10 to do so again.
National boss Hodgson suggested that there would be 11 changes to the side that lined up against Peru but, with doubts over Rooney’s match fitness, he has decided to start him out on the left, ahead of Raheem Sterling.
While the Manchester United attacker has stated his frustrations in the past at playing out wide, Hodgson has nonetheless decided to use his power and utilise him there as part of a 4-2-3-1 formation.
“The thinking behind Wayne starting a second game is that he only played 60 minutes the other day. He didn’t play too many games before he joined us. He is recovering his match fitness. It will be to his advantage to play a part against Ecuador,” Hodgson said.
“Wayne can play in several positions and he’ll play in a position which we think will suit the team and which he is capable of playing.
“He can [play on the left], absolutely. I think Wayne’s a very useful player in the sense you don’t have to pin him down and say this is the only position he can play. He can play centre-forward, behind the centre-forward and wide.
Rooney will not be the only one to be played out of position, though, as Milner (odds-on at 5/6 to be in the XI in the first group games against Italy) will start at right back, in place of Glen Johnson.
This is a move that ironically mimics where Man Utd utilise a certain fellow tenacious midfielder on occasion – Ecuador captain Antonio Valencia (5/1 to score anytime).
“James will play right back against Ecuador,” Hodgson confirmed. “He’s got the qualities to play there. There may be moments in the World Cup where we’d like to use him there.
“This will give him some experience of that position. He’s in the squad as a right or left-sided midfield player and that’s where we see him mostly, but it will be interesting to see how he gets on at right back.”
The other player who is certain to start is England’s World Cup vice captain Lampard (5/1 to be in the XI against Italy), and he will skipper on the night ahead of Steven Gerrard who is rested.
Although Hodgson said “there will be changes in the team for Ecuador, no question, but I can’t speak in detail because of reasons we often cite”, he was seen setting up an XI in training.
Judging by that team, the England line-up to take on Ecuador will be: Ben Foster; Milner, Chris Smalling, Phil Jones, Luke Shaw; Lampard, Jack Wilshere; Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Ross Barkley, Rooney; Rickie Lambert.
The use of Rooney’s fellow Everton youth academy graduate Barkley in the number 10 role is an interesting one, given that the 20-year-old will be playing in the former’s favoured position. He is 11/2 to score anytime against Ecuador, and 7/1 to start England’s first World Cup game.