Hodgson has faith in strike duo

08 December 2013 09:17

Uruguay may have Luis Suarez and Edinson Cavani, but Roy Hodgson reckons the South American nation will be worried about facing England's own strikeforce next summer.

England were handed a very tough World Cup group of Italy, Uruguay and Costa Rica on Friday.

Although England have only played Uruguay once since they faced off during the 1966 World Cup, Hodgson and his players know a lot about the leading men in Oscar Tabarez's squad.

Cavani, who cost Paris St Germain £53million last summer, is one of the most feared strikers on the continent and Suarez has terrorised defences in the Barclays Premier League for the last three years.

Wayne Rooney and Daniel Sturridge's partnership may be in its infancy - they have only started four games together - but Hodgson has a strong belief in the duo.

"It is a difficult group, but we've got players of our own that are well worth watching and well worth keeping an eye on," the England manager said.

"They are going to be focusing very heavily on people like Wayne Rooney, Daniel Sturridge if he maintains his form of the early season and players like Steven Gerrard.

"We'll be well prepared and our players will know quite a lot about our opponents when the time comes to play them too."

The day after finding out that he would be lining up against England in Brazil, Suarez gave Hodgson a reminder of his talents by scoring in Liverpool's 4-1 win over West Ham.

That strike took his tally for the season to 14 from 11 games.

Fraser Forster is unlikely to see much action in Brazil next summer unless Hodgson suddenly loses faith in Joe Hart.

But should he be called upon for the Uruguay game, the Celtic goalkeeper knows Suarez will be hard to keep out.

"Suarez is flying at the minute," Forster told Celtic's website.

"He's a top-quality player, but these are the guys you want to come up against.

"As a kid you dream of playing in the World Cup for your country, and a World Cup in Brazil is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity."

Hodgson revealed on Saturday that he is considering setting up at least one friendly against South American opposition before the World Cup so his team are not caught cold against Uruguay in their crucial second group match.

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.

Hodgson cannot afford to have the same thing happen again next summer, so he wants to face a South American country in May, and possibly again the following month.

"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.

Before that game against Uruguay is England's opener in the sticky heat of Manaus against Italy.

Mario Balotelli may have gained more notoriety for his antics off the pitch rather than on it during his spell at Manchester City, but he has proved his worth since returning to Italy.

The 23-year-old has scored eight times this term, including two for Italy in their qualifying campaign.

Previous coaches had struggled to get the best out of the enigmatic striker but Hodgson reckons the AC Milan man is currently in his prime.

"I've got a lot of respect for Italy," Hodgson said. "(Coach) Cesare Prandelli's done a wonderful job. I think that he's introduced a lot of new players into the team and he's managed players very, very well.

"Balotelli hasn't always played his best football for some coaches but he's certainly played it for Prandelli.

"So we have an enormous respect. But I think the respect will be mutual. They'll respect us as well, so let's wait to see what happens."

Source: PA