Sterling suspension no harm for England against Honduras
England, odds-on at 4/9, go into their final World Cup warm-up friendly against Honduras knowing that winger Raheem Sterling will miss out, having been sent off against Ecuador for his reckless tackle on Antonio Valencia.
After the match, Hodgson said: “I’m disappointed. I thought it was a fierce challenge from young Raheem, not a foul challenge. He played the ball and accelerated into the ball.
“I’m disappointed with Antonio’s reaction, grabbing the player. Had he not jumped up, there wouldn’t have been a problem, but, when he does that, the referee had to deal with that and sent Raheem off. I’m pleased Raheem didn’t react to a lot of people milling around him.”
Hodgson added: “Ecuador tested us but we dealt with them very well for long periods, and caused their defence many problems. We could have been several goals up before they scored their goal.”
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain however faces a nervy wait to see if he recovers from a media knee ligament injury, also sustained against Ecuador, although the player maintains he is ‘staying positive’.
He tweeted after receiving his scan: “I’m staying positive and getting to work with the medical team on recovery.”
Manager Roy Hodgson also commented following the match, and was trying to stay upbeat about the situation: “It is very disappointing for Alex and the team that he sustained an injury on Wednesday.
“It’s too early to make any decisions about what happens next – it is only 24 hours since the match so we have to wait and see. In the meantime, Alex is having regular assessment and treatment.
“The England medical team is in direct dialogue with their Arsenal counterparts and we obviously are all hoping for the best.”
Wayne Rooney equalised last time out, and is 4/1 to open the scoring against Honduras, who are 13/2 to record what would be a significant victory to boost morale, having being drawn in a group that includes France, Ecuador and Switzerland.
Rooney has since shrugged off criticism from Paul Scholes, who commented that the attacker may have reached his peak.
The Manchester United and England star said: “He’s been a team-mate but he’s been away from the first team for a long time: “I’m not interested. He’s got his opinions so let’s leave it at that.
“I’ve seen a lot of you saying he’s coached me and been around the team, but he hasn’t. I’m not really going to react.
“I’m not really interested in what anyone else has got to say. I’m interested in what Roy Hodgson, the coaching staff here and the people around me say. People have their opinions but I don’t agree with them.”
Honduras’ last match against Israel ended in a 4-2 defeat, though Roger Espinoza, who netted in the second half, is 12/1 to strike at anytime.
Rickie Lambert also impressed for the Lions against Ecuador, and was unlucky not to bag a brace, after Rooney got on the end of his strike for the first goal. The second was undoubtedly from the top drawer, and he is 5/1 to net first.
Hodgson’s biggest issue will be what tactics to apply, and whether he decides to pick a team that is more likely to start against Italy, with the likes of Daniel Sturridge and the first-choice back five rested against Ecuador.