Roy Hodgson (pictured) will hope to get a clearer picture of his squad for this summer’s World Cup when England host Denmark in a friendly match at Wembley on Wednesday (20:00 GMT, live on ITV).
England qualified for Brazil 2014 by topping Group H ahead of Ukraine, but that success was followed by friendly defeats to Chile and Germany last November that went some way to dampening expectations raised by competent victories over Montenegro and Poland.
Hodgson has chosen a 30-man squad for Wednesday’s match, which is England’s final friendly before the May deadline to name their 23-man World Cup squad. His selection includes a first call up for 18-year old Southampton left-back Luke Shaw and a recall for Cardiff defender Steven Caulker. MLS (Toronto) transferee Jermain Defoe is also included.
There are certain areas of the team in which Hodgson’s choices are all but defined. The defence, for instance, will likely be made up of Joe Hart, Kyle Walker or Glen Johnson, Gary Cahill, Phil Jagielka and Ashley Cole or Leighton Baines. In attack, Wayne Rooney and in-form Liverpool striker Daniel Sturridge are both certainties.
Yet there are other areas of the team that are not so clear cut. Andros Townsend proved a valuable wildcard during the latter stages of qualification but is out of form at club level, with Hodgson checking out alternatives such as Adam Lallana, Raheem Sterling and, in impact terms rather than positionally, Ross Barkley. There are also uncertainties over the makeup of England’s midfield.
Hodgson will be glad to welcome Alex Oxlaide-Chamberlain back into the squad after the Arsenal midfielder, highly impressive in the 2-2 draw against Brazil last summer, missed England’s late-2013 matches with a knee injury. Jagielka (hamstring) and Walker (hip) miss out through injury, but are both near certainties for the World Cup squad.
Denmark failed to qualify for Brazil 2014 after finishing second in Group B, six points behind group winners Italy. They had the lowest points total of any second place team and were therefore not involved in the qualification playoffs.
Morten Olsen stayed on as national team coach despite Denmark’s failure in qualification and will be the man to lead them into the Euro 2016 qualifiers. Olsen, in charge since 2000, has named a relatively inexperienced squad for this match, including three first time call ups and a further nine players with seven or less caps to their credit.
The majority of the less experienced members of the squad are from the domestic league, including Jakob Ankersen (Esbjerg) and Kasper Kusk (Aab), two midfielders with decent scoring records. Then there is Simon Makienok, who has scored seven goals in 12 appearances for Brondby this season and Jesper Juelsgard, the left-back of league leaders Midtjylland.
There are, however, a few names that will be familiar to English supporters in the Denmark ranks. Leicester City goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel, Liverpool defender Daniel Agger, Fulham midfielder William Kvist and Arsenal striker Nicklas Bendtner are all part of the squad, while Tottenham’s Christian Eriksen would also have been involved were it not for a back injury.
England v Denmark Betting Tips
These two countries have met on 18 previous occasions, with England winning 11, Denmark winning three and four encounters ending in draws. England were 2-1 victors in the last meeting between the sides in 2011, but Denmark triumphed on the last occasion they met on English soil, winning 3-2 at Old Trafford back in 2003.
England failed to score in home friendly defeats to Chile and Germany in November and although the priority for this fixture is to assess potential members of his World Cup squad, Hodgson will nevertheless be hoping to put on a better show in front of the England supporters this time around. His side are likely to be relatively attacking and will look to take the initiative.
Denmark have begun their rebuilding process for the Euro 2016 qualifiers and the inexperience of some of the players likely to be involved on Wednesday could prove decisive. They are a decent side, but shorn of their primary creator (Eriksen) and lacking a prolific striker, they are opponents that England should really be defeating.
- Back England to win @ 4/6 with Betfred, Coral, Ladbrokes or Paddy Power.
- Prior to the November friendlies, Rooney had scored nine goals in his previous 11 international appearances. He has scored in two of England’s last three matches against Denmark and despite patchy scoring form at club level can be fancied to find the back of the net on Wednesday. Back Wayne Rooney to score at anytime @ 6/4 with Bet365.