Former Liverpool defender Mark Lawrenson has said there is no need for England to fear either of their main opponents for qualification from their group in the form of Italy or Uruguay.
The former Ireland international said that none of the Italy players would get in the current England team, and said he wouldn’t even pick Andrea Pirlo.
He wrote in his column for the Daily Mirror: “Italy just don’t scare me. Nor do Luis Suarez’s Uruguay.
“I believe that both these teams look at England’s rising stars and think to themselves: “If they have a good day they can hurt us”.
Some may disagree with what Lawrenson has to say given that England have been drawn in a group that has two very difficult opponents. Uruguay’s side has players that have on the Copa America title, whilst Italy can be a bit of an odd team at tournaments. Some will point to their success in the 2006 World Cup where they unexpectedly won it for the fourth time, and their run to the Euro 2012 final.
Others will point to their poor showing at the 2010 World Cup in South Africa where they crashed out at the group stage.
Lawrenson has said that the players in the England side seem to have a good understanding, and that Wayne Rooney should definitely play in the opener in Menaus on Saturday.
“Against Honduras on Saturday night there was one moment when Danny Welbeck dummied a square ball to allow Daniel Sturridge a chance on goal
“There is an understanding between them – they enjoy playing alongside each other.”
The situation surrounding Rooney’s selection has taken up many column inches in recent weeks, with some suggesting the Manchester United forward should be dropped from the starting line-up despite the standing he has – with some citing that he hasn’t really performed for England at major championships.
The Match of the Day pundit added: “As for Wayne Rooney, I would certainly play him against Italy.
“But if he doesn’t impress then he knows himself that there is a real competition for his place.
“He knows he is not an automatic pick any more.
“He will relish the chance to prove to everyone that he is not finished yet – starting against Italy.”