England upbeat ahead of Peru World Cup warm-up
Roy Hodgson impressed with his squad as he faces Wembley selection headache
England play their last match on home soil this evening before embarking on their World Cup adventure, which begins in earnest on 14 June against Italy. Peru are the opponents at Wembley and manager Roy Hodgson was in upbeat mood when he faced the press on Thursday.
"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," said Hodgson. "The performance of the players in the last ten days has been good."
As a result, explained Hodgson, he expects to have a pleasant headache when it comes to selecting his squad for the tournament opener against Italy in Manaus. "There are a number of senior players but there are a number of positions up for grabs and everyone's doing their best to grab them... There are so many of them 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."
Between now and then England have an additional two warm-up games, both in Miami, against Ecuador (4 June) and Honduras (7 June) but the England manager is confident he's selected the best 23 players available. "I've had two years [in the job], this is the squad I've chosen, it is one I'm very pleased with," said Hodgson. "You certainly won't hear any excuses from Steven [Gerrard] or myself if anything untoward happens, because we believe we are in the right place and are the right people to do it."
England have spent the week at their training camp in St George's Park, and the only slight doubt for tonight's encounter against Peru is Southampton left-back Luke Shaw who has a "slight cold", Hodgson revealed. "He didn't train today and we're being very cautious. We can't say whether he will recover or not but it's a very minor issue and will quickly go over."
England should make short work of Peru, a team lying 42nd in Fifa's rankings, 31 places beneath England, but a tougher test will await the Three Lions when they face another South American side in the World Cup on 19 June. Uruguay, who reached the semi-finals of the 2010 World Cup, are one of the outsiders this time around and much depends on the form of Luis Suarez. Liverpool's Uruguayan striker underwent a minor knee operation last week but has promised he'll be ready to face England in their Group D encounter.
Asked if he had any news on his Liverpool teammate, England captain Steven Gerrard replied: "I don't know whether he is going to be available. I think the only people that know whether he is going to be available are Luis himself and the physio and doctors in their team. For me, it is not very important, it is something we can't control and is not my main focus... going into that game we're very confident that we can get the right result whether Luis is available or not."