Roy Hodgson is gambling on Raheem Sterling, with the Liverpool youngster in the England starting XI ahead of Adam Lallana for the game against Italy.
Hodgson has been talking up Sterling throughout the build-up to the World Cup, commenting on how impressive the 19-year-old has been in training. Unfortunately for the Three Lions he featured little in the warm-up games after being sent-off shortly after his introduction into the game against Ecuador and then being suspended for the game against Honduras.
Despite the lack of game time, the England manager hasn't been put off starting him against Italy and the Liverpool player will make just his third start for the Three Lions.
England: Group D team profile
England: Group D team profile
1/5 How they qualified
England topped their qualifying group, but it wasn’t without a struggle. Roy Hodgson’s men were unbeaten across ten games, but a few too many draws left them needing two wins from their last two games against Montenegro and Poland to secure automatic qualification and avoid the dreaded play-offs. An Andros Townsend-inspired side dispatched Montenegro with ease and even though Poland put up more of a resistance in the final game, England emerged 2-0 victors. For a national side who have been known to crumble under the pressure of big games in the past, England’s calm professionalism at the back-end of qualifying will provide much needed confidence for what will be a challenging tournament in Brazil.
2/5 Manager: Roy Hodgson
Appointed England manager in May 2012, Roy Hodgson had little over five weeks to prepare before his first game of that summer’s European Championships. His preparation for this World Cup has been much more measured and has included bringing in psychiatrist Dr Steve Peters to work on the mental side of the game. Hodgson has been praised for his man-management skills but will have to deliver tactically if England are to have any chance of success in Brazil.
3/5 Star player: Wayne Rooney
He has never scored at a World Cup, is under huge pressure and has even had to endure calls for his omission from the team against Italy – but the fact remains that Wayne Rooney is England’s star player. At just 28, the forward has a vast amount of tournament experience and is just two goals away from becoming England’s fourth highest all-time goalscorer. Manager Hodgson will know that an in-form Rooney is up there with the best of them, and if the Manchester United man can hit the heights he is capable of in Brazil, he will be key to his country’s chances.
4/5 Emerging talent: Raheem Sterling
Much has been made of the young talent in this England squad – Raheem Sterling is perhaps the brightest. The winger played an integral role during Liverpool’s excellent season, with his pace, skill and strength, despite his slender frame. He hasn’t started any of the three World Cup warm-up matches, but even if he’s on the bench against Italy to begin with, his impact as a substitute could be huge.
5/5 How they line-up (4-5-1)
Hart; Baines, Jagielka, Cahill, Johnson; Henderson, Gerrard, Sterling, Rooney, Lallana; Sturridge
Lallana is the one to make way, with Danny Welbeck starting on the left. Wayne Rooney will play behind Daniel Sturridge while Liverpool duo Jordan Henderson and Steven Gerrard will occupy the deeper midfield roles.
England team to face Italy (4-2-3-1): Hart; Johnson, Cahill, Jagielka, Baines; Gerrard (c), Henderson; Rooney, Sterling, Welbeck; Sturridge
Italy: Sirigu, Darmian, Paletta, Barzagli, Chiellini, Verratti, Pirlo, De Rossi, Candreva, Balotelli, Marchisio.