Coach Cesare Prandelli moans about Italy's lack of options

Problems for World Cup rivals offer encouragement to England boss Roy Hodgson

It is a complaint that English fans are well used to hearing but the Italy coach, Cesare Prandelli, admitting his frustration at the lack of eligible players for his Azzurri squad may just offer Roy Hodgson some encouragement for Brazil.

England's opponents in their opening match of Group D on 14 June face the ultimate test against world champions Spain in Madrid on Wednesday evening without Daniele de Rossi after the Roma midfielder was banned for three matches for punching an opponent. Prandelli's strict code of conduct around his squad ensured that ban was extended to the international arena despite the absence of several other key players, including Mario Balotelli.

Follow England v Denmark with our LIVE text commentary

That means several new faces including Torino winger Alessio Cerci will be handed a chance to impress, even if Prandelli believes there is a dearth of emerging talent.

"In the latest Serie A round only 38 per cent of the players were Italian," he said. "Spain are world and European champions, so we run many risks, but these are games that can give us a boost in terms of growth and character."

Uruguay, also in Group D, travel to Vienna to face an improving Austria side who beat the United States in their last friendly and recorded wins over Sweden and Ireland in World Cup qualifying. Yet having won five of their last seven matches since losing to Italy on penalties in the third place play-off of the Confederations Cup last year, Oscar Tabarez's men will be expected to fine-tune their preparations for Brazil.

Meanwhile, England's other group opponents, Costa Rica, host Paraguay in the early hours of Friday morning looking to end a run of three successive friendly defeats since they sealed World Cup qualification.

After the Football Federation of Ukraine reversed their decision to cancel the friendly against the US in Cyprus, all 32 nations who will be in Brazil are in action over the next few days on the last scheduled international date before provisional squads must be submitted to Fifa.

Both France and Netherlands will hand several fringe players the opportunity to stake a claim when they meet in Paris this evening, with Real Sociedad's 15-goal forward Antoine Griezmann tipped to finally win his first cap.

Fresh from their 2-0 victory at Wembey in November, Chile meet Germany in Stuttgart. Having been utilised in a central midfield position under Pep Guardiola for his club Bayern Munich, Germany captain Philipp Lahm has expressed a preference to retain that role in Brazil rather than switch back to defence.

"I feel comfortable in that position," said Lahm. "I can imagine playing there in the coming weeks, months or years but I will always play where the coach thinks I am most needed."

Wednesday night will also see Kosovo make their international debut. Still not officially recognised by Fifa despite declaring their independence in 2008, they have been given special dispensation to meet Haiti in Mitrovica. Manchester United's Adnan Januzaj rejected the chance to play in the match but Kosovo Prime Minister Hashim Thaci remains confident. "I'm no prophet," he said, "but we'll win."

Philipp Lahm is hoping to start for Germany in central midfield when they meet Chile in Stuttgart

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Refugee crisis: David Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia - will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi?

Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia...

But will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi, asks Robert Fisk
Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Humanity must be at the heart of politics, says Jeremy Corbyn
Joe Biden's 'tease tour': Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?

Joe Biden's 'tease tour'

Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?
Britain's 24-hour culture: With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever

Britain's 24-hour culture

With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever
Diplomacy board game: Treachery is the way to win - which makes it just like the real thing

The addictive nature of Diplomacy

Bullying, betrayal, aggression – it may be just a board game, but the family that plays Diplomacy may never look at each other in the same way again
Lady Chatterley's Lover: Racy underwear for fans of DH Lawrence's equally racy tome

Fashion: Ooh, Lady Chatterley!

Take inspiration from DH Lawrence's racy tome with equally racy underwear
8 best children's clocks

Tick-tock: 8 best children's clocks

Whether you’re teaching them to tell the time or putting the finishing touches to a nursery, there’s a ticker for that
Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
Tunisia fears its Arab Spring could be reversed as the new regime becomes as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor

The Arab Spring reversed

Tunisian protesters fear that a new law will whitewash corrupt businessmen and officials, but they are finding that the new regime is becoming as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor
King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
Who is Oliver Bonas and how has he captured middle-class hearts?

Who is Oliver Bonas?

It's the first high-street store to pay its staff the living wage, and it saw out the recession in style
Earth has 'lost more than half its trees' since humans first started cutting them down

Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

However, the number of trees may be eight times higher than previously thought
60 years of Scalextric: Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones

60 years of Scalextric

Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones
Theme parks continue to draw in thrill-seekers despite the risks - so why are we so addicted?

Why are we addicted to theme parks?

Now that Banksy has unveiled his own dystopian version, Christopher Beanland considers the ups and downs of our endless quest for amusement