Roy Hodgson gets his first chance to show what he can do for his country when England meet Norway in Olso for an international friendly on Saturday.
England’s new boss has named Liverpool’s Captain Marvel, Steven Gerrard as the national skipper and there will be much interest in how Hodgson deploys the 31-year-old play maker. The measured tactician could allow Gerrard a more attacking role than previously allowed, a position many pundits believe is the most effective way to play the versatile midfielder.
Gerrard has scored 19 times in 90 appearances for England despite being asked to play in a number of positions, often being told to restrain his attacking nature. The last time Gerrard scored for his country was at Wembley in August 2010 when getting both goals in England’s 2-1 win against Hungary.
Paddy Power is offering one of its Money Back Specials on Hodgson’s first game in charge and will refund a range of bets on the Norway v England match if Gerrard scores the opening goal of the game.
On the striker’s front, it looks likely Andy Carroll will get a chance to make a claim for a place in the squad to go to Poland and Ukraine. The Liverpool forward has spent much of the season warming the bench, but proved he can make an impact with some game eye-catching performances late in the season.
Forward options for Saturday’s friendly are limited, England will be without Wayne Rooney and the only other choices are Danny Welbeck and Jermaine Defoe. It remains to be seen if Hodgson will play his favoured 4-4-2 formation or opt for a lone central striker with attacking options coming from out wide.
Hodgson took charge of his first England training session on Wednesday and with less than week to decide his Euro 2012 a number of national stalwarts were unable to take part.
Chelsea trio John Terry, Frank Lampard and Ashley Cole were given a pass in lieu of the Champions League victory celebrations and are not expected to take any part in Thursday’s final work out in Manchester before the squad flies to Oslo.
Welbeck and Glenn Johnson were left out of activities as a precautionary measure, but are expected to be fit for Norway unlike Rooney who is being rested to recover from a slight knock.
There was good news from Scott Parker who was able to take part despite struggling with an Achilles problem, the Tottenham midfielder had been considered doubtful for Euro 2012 and Jordan Henderson and Adam Johnson have been placed on stand by in case Parker’s ankle doesn’t hold up.
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