Government forecasts early exit

ENGLAND have a 46 per cent chance of failing to advance from their World Cup group, according to a government study assessing the benefits of extending pub opening hours.

The Home Office used data provided by gambling website Betfair.com to draw their conclusions, rating England’s chances of progressing past the group stage at 54 per cent and the quarter-finals at 11 per cent.

Should Roy Hodgson’s team reach the knockout stages each potential tie would kick-off at 9pm BST, other than the final on 13 July, leading the coalition to ponder whether to waive the need for premises to apply for a Temporary Event Notice on the night of an England match.

The government has estimated businesses could be boosted by up to £1.35m through extended opening hours.

In order to quash those statistics former England striker Michael Owen believes young midfielders Ross Barkley and Adam Lallana should start in Brazil. The duo boast just six full England caps between them, but Owen, who scored 40 goals in 89 international matches, hopes Hodgson is bold with his team selections.

“I would [start] with both of those players,” said Owen. “You can’t get enough match winners in the team, game-changers are what you need.

“Barkley can score goals from nothing, Lallana the same.

“They have loads of confidence from this year and will go there thinking they can rule the world.”