Hodgson to shuffle England pack against Ecuador
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England's manager Roy Hodgson stands on the pitch during the team's first training session in Miami, Florida June 3, 2014 (Photo: Reuters)
AFP
Wednesday 4 Jun 2014
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England are expected to give a start to Liverpool's Raheem Sterling and several other young contenders when they face Ecuador in their pre-World Cup friendly on Wednesday.

Manager Roy Hodgson will use the game against the South Americans at SunLife Stadium to give a chance to those players who did not start in Friday's 3-0 win over Peru at Wembley, and plenty of attention will be on the exciting Sterling.

"Our plan on Wednesday is basically to start the people who didn't start on Friday," Hodgson said. "We've got two more matches. Wednesday will be an opportunity for me to start the others and then by Saturday we have all of them having played and ready. Then I'll have to make a decision over who does play."

England face Honduras on Saturday at the same venue, home to the NFL's Miami Dolphins, before heading to Brazil where they will face Italy, Uruguay and Costa Rica in Group D.

The 19-year-old Sterling emerged as one of England's brightest young talents with some electrifying performances for Liverpool last season. Astrong showing against Ecuador would boost his chances of a start in England's opening game against Italy in Manaus on June 14.

Another Merseyside based youngster, Everton's Ross Barkley, could be handed a role in the centre of midfield while Manchester City's James Milner and Arsenal's Jack Wilshere are expected to start and back-up keeper Ben Foster will replace Joe Hart.

England are basing themselves in South Florida for a week to use the heat and humidity to help them acclimatise to conditions in Manaus, but their plans were hampered by bad weather on Monday with a rain storm forcing them to train indoors.

Nevertheless, Foster believes Miami is the right choice for England to get themselves ideally prepared for Brazil.

"We had a bit of a storm before we went out. It was always going to be a light session. The goalies managed to do a bit," he told reporters on Monday.

"It was mostly gym work and the lads have got their own personal program of what they are going to do. It is perfect. The humidity is the main thing and it is pretty identical to what we will face in Brazil," he added.

While much attention will be focused on England's young attacking talent, the Ecuador game will also offer a chance for some defenders to stake their claim for a place.

Southampton's Luke Shaw could come in at left-back while Manchester United's Chris Smalling is expected to get a run-out in the centre of defence.

Ecuador suffered a blow in their preparations when they lost 3-1 to Mexico in Dallas on Saturday and experienced midfielder Segundo Castillo picked up a bad knee injury in a horrific clash with Luis Montes which left the Mexican with a broken leg.

Castillo arrived at Fort Lauderdale airport on Sunday being pushed in a wheelchair by team-mates and was due to undergo an MRI scan on Monday.

"You have to be calm and have faith," he told the Ecuador Football Federation's website.

"I'm hoping it's not something serious to allow me to be at the World Cup. I am going to do tests to determine more about the injury."

Ecuador have been drawn in Group E where they will face Switzerland, Honduras and France.

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