• International friendly: England v Republic of Ireland

Hodgson backs Sturridge and Rooney to shine

ESPN staff
May 29, 2013
Ashley Cole will captain England in his 100th appearance

England boss Roy Hodgson has backed Daniel Sturridge's rich vein of form at Liverpool to translate into success with the national team - starting with the Republic of Ireland on Wednesday.

Sturridge is expected to earn his first England start in the friendly at Wembley after a successful end to the Premier League season with the Anfield club, which saw him score 11 goals in 16 games after signing from Chelsea.

"Daniel Sturridge has been an enormous talent for many years," Hodgson said. "Chelsea paid a lot of money for him from Manchester City before he'd broken into their team but he's been more of a regular at Liverpool.

"He's grown in confidence and week after week now we are seeing all the qualities we've always known he had.

"In the same way Danny Welbeck did, we are hoping Daniel comes in and brings us something with his incredible pace, footwork and technical ability to help us win matches. This will be an opportunity for him to show he can do it at a higher level."

Wayne Rooney, who ended a frustrating season at Old Trafford failing to earn a place on the United bench, is hopeful of regaining some form during the friendlies against Ireland and Brazil and Hodgson believes the 27-year-old's club woes will not impact him.

"If anything I find his desire stronger than when we first met," Hodgson said. "I have nothing but the greatest faith in him. I know he'll be really desperate to get out and show how desperate he is.

"Good players can have bad games, it's not an exact science. But my faith in Wayne Rooney has never wavered."

Rooney is expected to play just behind Sturridge, with Hodgson unable to hand him the free roaming midfield role which he has enjoyed at United.

"I know where it's best for him to play and I have it fairly clear in my mind where I want to see him play," he said. "Everyone knows his ability. I expect him to continue showing that. But who will it involve him playing with? That might be a position which is up for grabs."

Ireland have a busy period ahead with this friendly coming before a clash with Georgia, then a must-win World Cup qualifier against the Faroe Islands and a glamour tie in New York with World and European champions Spain. Although, toppling England - especially at Wembley where they have never won - would, arguably, mean the most to the players and the supporters.

"This is a good test, pyschologically and physically. Our players are familiar with England's players because the majority of them play against them in the Premier League while others play in the Championship," Giovanni Trapattoni said.

"It is a good opportunity for us to grow in personality and to understand that it is always possible to get a result against a strong team. Only when you play against a strong team, can you evaluate your improvement."


England head into tonight's game on the back of a three-match unbeaten run which includes victory against Brazil at Wembley and putting eight past minnows San Marino. The draw in Montenegro was described as "well-earned" by Hodgson, but many fans feel it was a game England should have won.

Ireland are also unbeaten in three, with an impressive friendly victory against Poland followed up by two World Cup stalemates. A dogged 0-0 draw at in-form Sweden was a good result, but they really should have beaten Austria at home four days later.

Team News

Daniel Sturridge will make his first start for England with Danny Welbeck not fully fit, while Ashley Cole will skipper the side in the absence of Steven Gerrard. Defender Kyle Walker also misses out.
Probable line-up: Hart; Johnson, Jagielka, Cahill, Cole; Walcott, Lampard, Carrick, Oxlade-Chamberlain; Sturridge, Rooney

For the visitors, Robbie Keane is available after being given special dispensation from LA Galaxy to fly to London for the match.
Probable line-up: Forde; Coleman, O'Shea, St Ledger, Kelly; Walters, McCarthy, Whelan, McGeady; Long, Keane

One to Watch

Wayne Rooney will come under close scrutiny after missing the final two games of Manchester United's title-winning campaign, having told the club he wants to leave. Roy Hodgson says Rooney is still hungry and wants to regain his form for England. We'll see.

Key Battle

Daniel Strurridge will look to capitalise on his fine end to the season by adding to his single England strike since making his debut in 2011. The Liverpool striker will be up against defender Sean St Ledger, who will use the match to put himself in the shop window after finding himself surplus to requirements at Championship side Leicester City.

Prediction and Bet

England are favourites but anything can happen in a derby and the match will be played at a fast pace. The last three completed games between the sides ended in a draw - we fancy the same again.

Odds from Bet365: England win 9/20; Ireland win 15/2; draw 7/2

Prediction: 2-2 (20/1)

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