Manaus Groundsman Says Pitch "In Bad Shape" For England's Opener

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  • The groundsman responsible for the pitch at the Manaus stadium admits that its surface is "in bad shape" for England's opening World Cup match against Italy on Saturday.

    England head to Manaus on Thursday and intend to send an official to inspect the pitch, which appeared dry and marked in photos of the turf taken over the past 48 hours.

    Carlos Botella, head groundsman for the Royal Verd company which is responsible for the turf of seven World Cup stadiums including Manaus, admitted that the pitch will not be in a preferred state for the game on Saturday 14 June between England and Italy.

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    “Frankly, Manaus is in bad shape,” Botella told the Associated Press. “We’ve started to implement an emergency plan to try to save the field and improve it as much as possible, but I don’t think it’ll be in good condition by the weekend.

    “We’ve put fertilizer down, and we’ll increase the fertilizing process with biostimulants and seeds to try to get the most out of the grass."

    The stadium is in a city reachable only by plane or boat, a subject Botella linked to the current state of the pitch. He added: “The maintenance has been complicated in Manaus. There are no roads, all the machinery and materials had to be brought by ship. There’s no fertilizer, no seeds. Everything has been complicated.”

    England striker Wayne Rooney however shunned concerns about the pitch condition, saying: “It’s the same for ourselves and Italy, so we’ll both have to deal with that.”

    Danny Welbeck meanwhile missed training on Wednesday after limping out of the team's session the previous day clutching his right thigh. An initial scan showed promise of no lasting injuries, and the Manchester United forward could still feature on Saturday.

    England's Group D opener against Italy kicks off at 23:00 BST on Saturday, before they face Uruguay in Sao Paulo on 19 June and then Costa Rica in Belo Horizonte a further five days later. Compare England's World Cup betting odds here.

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