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

Property
house + home
Arts and Entertainment
tvGame of Thrones season 5 ep 4, review - WARNING: contains major spoiliers!
Arts and Entertainment
tvThe C-Word, TV review
Arts and Entertainment
The Ridiculous Six has been produced by Adam Sandler, who also stars in it
filmNew controversy after nine Native American actors walked off set
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Sport
Danny Jones was in the Wales squad for the 2013 World Cup
rugby leagueKeighley Cougars half-back was taken off after just four minutes
Life and Style
The original ZX Spectrum was simple to plug into your TV and get playing on
techThirty years on, the ZX Spectrum is back, after a fashion
News
Tiger Woods and Lindsey Vonn are breaking up after nearly three years together
peopleFormer couple announce separation in posts on their websites
Sport
football
Life and Style
Google celebrates Bartolomeo Cristofori's 360th birthday
techGoogle Doodle to the rescue
Arts and Entertainment
Haunted looks: Matthew Macfadyen and Timothy Spall star in ‘The Enfield Haunting’
tvThe Enfield Haunting, TV review
News
news
News
The Mattehorn stands reflected in Leisee lake near Sunnegga station on June 30, 2013 near Zermatt, Switzerland
news
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

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

Career Services

Day In a Page

Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Russell Brand's interview with Ed Miliband has got everyone talking about The Trews

Everyone is talking about The Trews

Russell Brand's 'true news' videos attract millions of viewers. But today's 'Milibrand' interview introduced his resolutely amateurish style to a whole new crowd
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living