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

i100 In this video, the late actor Leonard Nimoy explains how he decided to use the gesture for his character
Arts and Entertainment
Secrets of JK Rowling's Harry Potter workings have been revealed in a new bibliography
arts + ents
Down-to-earth: Winstone isn't one for considering his 'legacy'
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
Independent Dating

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

Career Services

Day In a Page

HIV pill: Scientists hail discovery of 'game-changer' that cuts the risk of infection among gay men by 86%

Scientists hail daily pill that protects against HIV infection

Breakthrough in battle against global scourge – but will the NHS pay for it?
How we must adjust our lifestyles to nature: Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch

Time to play God

Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch where we may need to redefine nature itself
MacGyver returns, but with a difference: Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman

MacGyver returns, but with a difference

Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman
Tunnel renaissance: Why cities are hiding roads down in the ground

Tunnel renaissance

Why cities are hiding roads underground
'Backstreet Boys - Show 'Em What You're Made Of': An affectionate look at five middle-aged men

Boys to men

The Backstreet Boys might be middle-aged, married and have dodgy knees, but a heartfelt documentary reveals they’re not going gently into pop’s good night
Crufts 2015: Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?

Crufts 2015

Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?
10 best projectors

How to make your home cinema more cinematic: 10 best projectors

Want to recreate the big-screen experience in your sitting room? IndyBest sizes up gadgets to form your film-watching
Manchester City 1 Barcelona 2 player ratings: Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man?

Manchester City vs Barcelona player ratings

Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man at the Etihad?
Arsenal vs Monaco: Monaco - the making of Gunners' manager Arsene Wenger

Monaco: the making of Wenger

Jack Pitt-Brooke speaks to former players and learns the Frenchman’s man-management has always been one of his best skills
Cricket World Cup 2015: Chris Gayle - the West Indies' enigma lives up to his reputation

Chris Gayle: The West Indies' enigma

Some said the game's eternal rebel was washed up. As ever, he proved he writes the scripts by producing a blistering World Cup innings
In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare and murky loyalties prevails

In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare

This war in the shadows has been going on since the fall of Mr Yanukovych
'Birdman' and 'Bullets Over Broadway': Homage or plagiarism?

Homage or plagiarism?

'Birdman' shares much DNA with Woody Allen's 'Bullets Over Broadway'
Broadchurch ends as damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

A damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

Broadchurch, Series 2 finale, review
A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower: inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

Inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower