Roy backs cubs to star for Three Lions

Roy Hodgson has called on England’s young talents to prove their worth as the World Cup opener against Italy edges ever closer.

After weeks of build-up and preparation, the Three Lions are just days away from kicking off their campaign in Manaus, a thousand miles up the River Amazon.

Four-time world champions Italy are the opponents in the Group D opener at the Arena Amazonia, just as they were in England’s last match at a major international tournament two years ago.

Then, the Azzurri triumphed on penalties, knocking Hodgson’s side out at the quarter-final juncture of Euro 2012 after an uninspiring 0-0 draw in Kiev.

This, though, is a much more exciting unit and one which the England manager believes is far better placed to succeed — albeit he wants the highly-rated young players to be looked at with more hope than expectation.

“I think it’s very exciting,” Hodgson said. “We have a lot of potential, we have a lot of excitement, a lot belief in this potential.

“But I must advise some kind of caution because, as you know, the players haven’t had much chance in an England shirt to show that potential can be realised. I personally think it will be but, before we build people up too much and say how wonderful these young players are, let’s see some very good performances in an England shirt first.

“We know they can do it, we believe they can do it, but let’s just calm ourselves down a little bit before we start saying that we have world-beaters in our squad.

“To be a world-beater, you’ve got to put your international shirt on and play very well.

“I think we have more options (than at Euro 2012). I think we certainly have more athleticism, we have more pace, more mobility. We have a lot of technical players. I certainly am not trying in any way to play down the fact the future looks quite bright and there are some very, very interesting times ahead for us, I’m sure.”

The likes of Raheem Sterling and Ross Barkley have particularly impressed onlookers and Hodgson may well be tempted to throw them in from the start against Italy.

That would certainly be a bold move from the England boss, who was giving little away other than injury updates at the first press conference at their Urca training base.

Hodgson confirmed that, as things stand, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain is likely to be the only absentee against the Azzurri, although he expects the midfielder to recover from a medial ligament issue in time to feature against Uruguay.

The other player whose fitness was questioned was captain Steven Gerrard after he dipped out of training early on Monday with an apparent slight groin injury — news that perplexed the England boss.

“Well, I don’t really understand the Steven Gerrard one,” Hodgson said.

The Gerrard issue was one of just a handful questions that Hodgson did not play with a straight bat.

The one that really got his goat was the first from the Brazilian media, with a journalist suggesting England had complained a lot about the World Cup being in the country and, in particular, the fact they had to head to Manaus.

“It is not true that we complained about Manaus and Brazil,” Hodgson snapped. “Quite the opposite. I think that nonsense should be put to bed straight away.”

Savage almost misses Rio flight due to wrong passport

Former Welsh football star and TV pundit Robbie Savage almost missed his flight to Rio for the World Cup after accidentally picking up his wife’s passport instead of his own.

The former midfielder only realised he had the wrong travel documents when he arrived at the airport to check-in for his flight to the global football festival in South America.

He discovered he was carrying a passport belonging to wife Sarah as he went to check-in for the journey.

The Welsh international thanked airline staff for helping him make his transatlantic flight to the Brazilian city after his own passport was rushed to the airport just in time for the flight.

He tweeted: “Wow thank you @britishairways great staff for rushing me through as I turned up with my wife’s passport. Just got mine in nick of time.



“2nd time it’s happened I’m going to have to tell my wife to get her haircut.

“The hair has to go it’s so long! Mr S.”

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