Punters looking for value when betting on who will start England's opening match at the World Cup should focus on midfield options.
Barring any injuries Joe Hart looks certain to start between the sticks against Italy in Manaus and in all likelihood will be protected by a back four of Glen Johnson, Phil Jagielka, Gary Cahill and Leighton Baines, so there are no alluring betting opportunities at the back. It's a similar story up-front with Wayne Rooney and Daniel Sturridge both odds on to start in attack, but if either of the duo suffer an injury setback, then the 15/8 on Danny Wellbeck would be of interest.
Steven Gerrard looks nailed-on to occupy a holding role as he has done for Liverpool this season, but there are three remaining midfield spots up for grabs. Jordan Henderson looks to have eventually justified his hefty price tag and while at odds-on with most firms can be backed at even money with Stan James. However, Adam Lallana's goal-threat could see him get the nod ahead of Henderson and Bet365's odds of 11/10 look worth snapping up with most other bookies at odds on.
England will need plenty of energy on the flanks in the Brazilian heat, which could lead Roy Hodgson to Raheem Sterling. The Liverpool winger really stepped up his game this season and looked fearless in a number of high-profile games despite his young age. He can be backed to make the starting XI on June 14th at best odds 5/4 with Bet365, while other firms are again at odds on. James Milner is another industrious option for Hodgson who can be backed at a top price of 11/8 with Winner to start England's opening match. Milner is often used as a substitute, but may well be suited to this game with his seemingly boundless energy reserves.
Those fancying Jack Wilshere to get the nod can get best value with Coral with odds of 6/4, compared to even money elsewhere, while his Arsenal teammate Alex Oxlaide-Chamberlain is likely to be on the bench. The experience of Frank Lampard will probably lead to him being brought on to have a calming influence on the game and he is unlikely to start, while punters can have quite a long-shot on Ross Barkley at odds of 13/2.
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