Hodgson planning for friendly encounter

England will look to set up at least one friendly against South American opposition before the World Cup so they are not caught cold against Uruguay.


England were placed alongside Uruguay, Italy and Costa Rica in what is already being dubbed the "Group of Death" when the World Cup draw was made on Friday.

England know all about Italy. The Azzurri knocked Roy Hodgson's team out of the European Championship last summer and they clashed again later that summer in a friendly, which England won 2-1.

England have previously clashed with Uruguay 10 times, with the South American nation winning four of those encounters.

England's most recent clash with Latin American opposition proved a chastening experience for Hodgson and his team.

Chile ran out comfortable 2-0 winners when they visited Wembley last month. Jorge Sampaoli's men passed the ball far better than England, they were tighter in defence and Alexis Sanchez scored two clinical goals in the friendly.

Hodgson cannot afford to have the same thing happen again when England play Uruguay in their second Group D game on June 20 in Sao Paulo.

"We always knew that there was a good chance of getting a South American opponent and it will be important for us now in our planning to try and get some games where we get a chance to play against these short-passing technical players, so at least we don't come into the tournament totally unprepared," Hodgson said on Football Focus.

There are two opportunities for Hodgson to pit his team against South American opposition before the World Cup.

There is a free slot at the end of May when the Three Lions play their final friendly on home soil, and England are yet to name their opponents for the first game of their two-match tour of the USA in June.

England had lined Uruguay as a potential friendly opponent in November, but Oscar Tabarez's men ended up having to take part in a play-off against Jordan that month instead.

Venezuela, Peru, Bolivia and Paraguay all did not qualify for the World Cup so may be willing to play England in June, but it is worth noting that the domestic leagues in those countries will be in full swing come the summer.

Hodgson raised a few eyebrows when he said he would put £10 on England to win the World Cup if he could.

He accepts the chances of England winning have decreased thanks to the draw they have been given, but he makes no apologies for dreaming of World Cup glory.

"We're going to go to Brazil and try and win, not just the games to get ourselves out of the group, we're going to try and win the games that follow that and we will even be trying to win the final," the 66-year-old said.

"We should be allowed to have those dreams and aspirations, but we're realistic, we know that there is a risk in this particular group, it will be hard for us.

"Whatever two teams do not qualify from this group, I'm certain people are going to be saying 'well, they would have been good enough to go on.'"

"But these might be seven games that will live in your memory for the rest of your life. And if you're lucky, be actually invited out for dinner on many an occasion for the rest of your life as well!"

Being in Salvador for the World Cup draw this week has certainly whetted Hodgson's appetite for the tournament.

The England manager cut an excited figure when speaking about the outcome of the draw - despite Greg Dyke's cut-throat gesture which dominated Saturday's front and back pages.

The focus may be on the group opener against Italy in Manaus, but Hodgson knows he cannot afford to under-estimate the minnows of the group Costa Rica either.

Hodgson added: "They've a very technical group of players, we know from Bryan Ruiz who plays at Fulham what a technical player he is, and I'm certain they've got other players like him."

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