AND manager Roy Hodgson has quashed fears that strikers Wayne Rooney and Daniel Sturridge may struggle to form a potent partnership at this summer’s World Cup.
In Rooney’s 89 England appearances he has only started alongside Sturridge five times.
With three friendlies to come before the World Cup opener against Italy on 14 June, beginning at home to Peru tonight, there should be ample opportunity to cement that partnership.
However, Hodgson has refuted any notion Rooney and Sturridge, who notched a combined 38 goals last season for Manchester United and Liverpool, may prove incompatible.
“I sometimes think we complicate things by suggesting that two good players can’t play together because there are some similarities, I don’t really subscribe to that,” he said.
“What I can say is they are two excellent players, two first class players, and I’ve always been of the belief that when you’ve got first class players who really don’t have any particular weaknesses there is no reason why they can’t play together.”
Southampton left-back Luke Shaw is Hodgson’s only selection doubt tonight. The defender has been suffering with a cold and travelled separately from the remainder of the squad from St George’s Park to London yesterday and did not train.
Hodgson, who must confirm his final 23-man squad to go to Brazil on Monday, is delighted with what he has witnessed in training so far, and expects the high standards will continue when they fly out to Miami for friendlies against Ecuador and Honduras next week.
“The training sessions have been very impressive and if I could bottle what I’m seeing and release it on 14 June I’d be very happy,” Hodgson added.
“The performance of the players in the last 10 days has been good. There are so many that are so keen to stake their claim, so it won’t be an easy choice and that’s how I expected it to be. I would defy anyone to second guess my first XI at the moment.”
■ Tonight: Peru (friendly)
■ Wednesday: Ecuador (friendly)
■ 7 June: Honduras (friendly)
■ 14 June: Italy (World Cup)
■ 19 June: Uruguay (World Cup)
■ 24 June: Costa Rica (World Cup)