World Cup 2014: ‘Depth of talent’ leaves Roy Hodgson with several difficult decisions

Intense battle for places sets the England manager a different challenge to Euro 2012

England play their final home match before the World Cup this week with Roy Hodgson hoping Friday's friendly against Peru will show his preparations are on the right track. After a weekend off following last week's training camp in Portugal the squad’s build-up moves into the second stage on home soil tomorrow at St George's Park.

Hodgson is planning a more intense series of training sessions than on the Algarve, where he was limited by the need to allow players' bodies to recover from a long season. Peru provide South American opposition similar to that England will encounter when they face Uruguay in Sao Paulo and the emphasis in training is likely to be on how to deal with a Latin tempo of play.

While the media and public will be expecting England to head off across the Atlantic for their final training camp in Miami with a win behind them Hodgson is more focused on the performance.

“The most important thing is a good footballing team performance,” he said earlier this week at the team’s Vale Do Lobo base. “We are not extrapolating from it and saying 'if we did this against Peru that will mean when Italy come up, or Uruguay come up, that will lead to this'. I don't believe in that. What I do believe is if the team play well, and we see good defensive work or attacking work, that will stand us in good stead; if we don't see it and big problems are highlighted we better get down to work straight away afterwards.

"There will be a lot of enthusiasm, a lot of people wanting to play in that game. I have 25 players who will be putting their hand up saying 'pick me', 'pick me, I want to play'. It would be nice if we could get some playing time for everybody in the three warm-up games [England will play Ecuador and Honduras in Miami]. Whether it is achievable is another matter.“

Hodgson is unsure as to whether he will play a 'first XI' in any of the matches, or indeed if he will have a 'first XI' as such. ”There’s so much competition for places at the moment that it would be very bold of me to say, ‘this is my best team’. Especially in those front positions there’s an awful lot of talent. At the back I suppose people might argue there’s more chance of suggesting a settled goalkeeper and back four. But around Steven Gerrard as a fixed point in midfield there are so many possibilities that whatever team I pick there’ll be people looking at the bench that day and saying, ‘I’d have picked him instead’.

But that’s good, because that hasn’t always been the case. I think you need more than 1-11. You need that bench, so that when you look along it you see players you can send on when things aren’t going so good. You want to be excited by what you see, to think: ‘I’ll put him on, because he might change something'. I think we’ve got that this year. With respect to the Euro 2012 group, I don’t think we had it to anywhere near the same extent.“

One player to whom this applies is Raheem Sterling who had not even started a first team match at the time of Euro 2012. Now he is not only coming off the back of a fine season for Liverpool, but shown he can play centrally as well as on the flanks.

Asked if he could he play there for England Hodgson said: “Oh yes. I’ve got a fairly naïve attitude to that – if you’re playing at the top, top level in the Premier League, any position you play, you can do it for your national team. I don’t believe there’s some mystical barrier.”

Sterling himself said of the central role he filled to such effect late in the season, “It was a newish position for me and I adapted to it. I think [Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers] put me there to move the ball quicker. Sometimes I used to be on the ball too long and when that happens [in the centre], someone might smash you. I played there when I was younger at QPR, just behind the striker and I quite like it.”

Hodgson added that Sterling was one of several versatile players. “You could mention Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain. You could talk about James Milner who usually plays wide but I’ve seen him have some very good games centrally for Manchester City. Jordan Henderson started off the season for Liverpool in a wider position before moving centrally. As for Adam Lallana, I’d defy anybody to pin him down to a particular position because even during the course of games I’ve seen him play a period of time in one position then move to another. It is a beauty of the squad, I think. It is an advantage. It does give us a flexibility we can benefit from.”

Arts and Entertainment
Gregg Wallace in Summer's Supermarket Secrets
tv All of this year's 15 contestants have now been named
Arts and Entertainment
Inside the gallery at Frederick Bremer School in Walthamstow
tvSimon Usborne goes behind-the-scenes to watch the latest series
Life and Style
A picture taken on January 12, 2011 shows sex shops at the Paris district of Pigalle.
newsThe industry's trade body issued the moratorium on Friday
News
Winchester College Football (universally known as Winkies) is designed to make athletic skill all but irrelevant
Life...arcane public school games explained
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Could we see Iain back in the Bake Off tent next week?
tv Contestant teased Newsnight viewers on potential reappearance
Life and Style
Silvia says of her famous creation: 'I never stopped wearing it. Because I like to wear things when they are off the radar'
fashionThe fashion house celebrated fifteen years of the punchy pouch with a weighty tome
News
i100(and it's got nothing to do with the Great British Bake Off)
News
Angelina Jolie with her father Jon Voight
peopleAsked whether he was upset not to be invited, he responded by saying he was busy with the Emmy Awards
News
Bill Kerr has died aged 92
peopleBill Kerr appeared in Hancock’s Half Hour and later worked alongside Spike Milligan and Peter Sellers
News
news It's not just the world that's a mess at the moment...
Sport
footballPremiership preview: All the talking points ahead of this weekend's matches
News
Keira Knightley poses topless for a special September The Photographer's issue of Interview Magazine, out now
people
Voices
The Ukip leader has consistently refused to be drawn on where he would mount an attempt to secure a parliamentary seat
voicesNigel Farage: Those who predicted we would lose momentum heading into the 2015 election are going to have to think again
Arts and Entertainment
Cara Delevingne made her acting debut in Anna Karenina in 2012
film Cara Delevingne 'in talks' to star in Zoolander sequel
News
i100
Sport
Mario Balotelli pictured in his Liverpool shirt for the first time
football
Life and Style
tech
Caption competition
Caption competition
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

Ukraine crisis: The phoney war is over as Russian troops and armour pour across the border

The phoney war is over

Russian troops and armour pour into Ukraine
Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

The world’s entire food system is under attack - and Britain is most at risk, according to a new study
Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

Seoul's plastic surgery industry is booming thanks to the popularity of the K-Pop look
From Mozart to Orson Welles: Creative geniuses who peaked too soon

Creative geniuses who peaked too soon

After the death of Sandy Wilson, 90, who wrote his only hit musical in his twenties, John Walsh wonders what it's like to peak too soon and go on to live a life more ordinary
Caught in the crossfire of a cyber Cold War

Caught in the crossfire of a cyber Cold War

Fears are mounting that Vladimir Putin has instructed hackers to target banks like JP Morgan
Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years

Salomé: A head for seduction

Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years. Now audiences can meet the Biblical femme fatale in two new stage and screen projects
From Bram Stoker to Stanley Kubrick, the British Library's latest exhibition celebrates all things Gothic

British Library celebrates all things Gothic

Forthcoming exhibition Terror and Wonder: The Gothic Imagination will be the UK's largest ever celebration of Gothic literature
The Hard Rock Café's owners are embroiled in a bitter legal dispute - but is the restaurant chain worth fighting for?

Is the Hard Rock Café worth fighting for?

The restaurant chain's owners are currently embroiled in a bitter legal dispute
Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival

In search of Caribbean soul food

Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival
11 best face powders

11 best face powders

Sweep away shiny skin with our pick of the best pressed and loose powder bases
England vs Norway: Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

Lack of Englishmen at leading Premier League clubs leaves manager hamstrung
Angel Di Maria and Cristiano Ronaldo: A tale of two Manchester United No 7s

Di Maria and Ronaldo: A tale of two Manchester United No 7s

They both inherited the iconic shirt at Old Trafford, but the £59.7m new boy is joining a club in a very different state
Israel-Gaza conflict: No victory for Israel despite weeks of death and devastation

Robert Fisk: No victory for Israel despite weeks of devastation

Palestinians have won: they are still in Gaza, and Hamas is still there
Mary Beard writes character reference for Twitter troll who called her a 'slut'

Unlikely friends: Mary Beard and the troll who called her a ‘filthy old slut’

The Cambridge University classicist even wrote the student a character reference
America’s new apartheid: Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone

America’s new apartheid

Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone