Roy Hodgson set to unveil England squad to face Italy
Thursday 09 August 2012
A number of England's senior players are expected to be missing when coach Roy Hodgson unveils his first squad of the new season tomorrow.
Forty-seven days after that penalty shoot-out defeat in Kiev that ended English hopes at Euro 2012, Hodgson will once again begin preparations for a meeting with Italy.
This time it will be very different.
For a start the venue will be in the neutral city of Berne.
More significantly, both teams will be looking to the future.
Italy are expected to be without Andrea Pirlo, who did so much damage to England's hopes in that quarter-final encounter, whilst it has been suggested Chelsea's Ashley Cole will be amongst those to be excused duty.
Earlier this week, Hodgson made particular reference to Daniel Sturridge, Tom Cleverley and Ryan Bertrand as those who caught his eye during the Olympics.
In addition, Kyle Walker has recovered from the toe injury that prevented him accepting a late call-up to Euro 2012, whilst Everton midfielder Jack Rodwell has also been involved in the Toffee's pre-season programme.
All have a chance of being involved next week, as has Manchester City winger Adam Johnson, who was overlooked for the European Championships after failing to secure a regular first-team berth at the Etihad Stadium.
In addition, Gary Cahill has now recovered from the fractured jaw he sustained against Belgium that wrecked his dreams of appearing in the competition, and Frank Lampard is over the thigh injury that forced his withdrawal.
Midfield duo Scott Parker and Gareth Barry are definitely missing through injury, with coach Gary Neville insisting there are more important considerations next week than the result.
Speaking at an event to promote his new Sustainability in Sport initiative, Neville said: "Roy Hodgson was very clear that he would always use friendlies to have a look at people he hadn't seen before or to develop new ideas.
"He has good ideas about what he wants to do with this friendly.
"It is the only environment he will have to look at people.
"But they have to be the right players and they have to be ready."
The FA have already defended the timing of the fixture, which is the only official date prior to the opening World Cup qualifier in Moldova on September 7.
"You have to consider what you want out of a game," said Neville.
"We are at the end of pre-season, the league is just about to start and we have three days to prepare, so you are not going to get a perfect performance.
"Also I am not quite sure it will have an effect on the Moldova game.
"I played in a lot of England friendlies when the result wasn't backed up in the competitive matches afterwards.
"What we need is a good quality performance to keep the momentum going.
"We are unbeaten so far in terms of normal football and are developing a squad that can take the country towards the World Cup."
Arsenal strengthened their grip on a top-four finish with a straightforward 3-0 win over Hull City.
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