Hodgson’s first step as England boss
Roy Hodgson takes charge of England for the first time as they travel to Oslo for a warm-up friendly match against Norway.
The idea of the exhibition is to give Hodgson, his coaching staff, which includes former Manchester United right-back Gary Neville, and the fan base back home, something to look at in the national team’s final preparations for Euro 2012.
In Friday’s press conference, the England chief confirmed that Liverpool striker Andy Carroll and West Ham United goalkeeper Rob Green would both start for the Three Lions, whilst reinstated captain Steven Gerrard would lead out the side.
Gerrard, who takes over the captaincy from centre-back John Terry, will lead out his side in a national tournament once again, after being given the armband in England’s opening match in the World Cup two years ago against the USA.
He will be hoping to recapture the form which has deserted him for much of the season which England fans know he can produce, whilst fellow Anfield players, Stewart Downing and Glen Johnson will want to justify their selections and silence the unhappy supporters with good performances in the lead up to Poland and Ukraine.
However, right-back Johnson looks set to miss out on the game at the Ullevaal Stadium, as he limped out of Thursday’s training session with an infected toe, whilst forward Danny Welbeck also looks doubtful after his ankle problem.
With the two players facing a race to be fit in time for the summer competition, it means Hodgson is left with a depleted squad with shot-stopper John Ruddy ruled out of the tournament with a broken finger and midfielder Scott Parker a concern too.
It means the likes of young starlets Phil Jones and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain could feature on Saturday, as they look to stake a claim for a starting spot for the first game against France on Monday 11th June.
So with the upcoming friendly being more of a chance for the “squad” players in 23 to play well, what the game will tell us is the tactics Hodgson looks set to play, especially with talisman Wayne Rooney suspended for the first two fixtures.
Predecessor Fabio Capello found success using a 4-3-3 formation, with Ashley Young and Theo Walcott often supporting a lone man in attack.
However, with Hodgson being English and much of a traditionalist, he may revert back to a standard 4-4-2 set-up, trying to create more of a partnership up front, whilst solidifying the defence with two banks of four.
His personnel selection may still remain unclear once the game is over, however, what we may find out is what tactics and formations the new boss will bring to the national team and exactly how “hands on” Roy will be in his challenging and highly demanding new role.