England aim to head to Brazil on winning note
Roy Hodgson's side play friendly against Peru in last pre-World Cup game at Wembley
England will hope to leave their supporters optimistic of World Cup success when they tackle Peru at Wembley Stadium on Friday in their final home friendly before the tournament begins.
Roy Hodgson’s side fly to Miami for a training camp the day after facing the South Americans and will not play in front of their own fans again until a Euro 2016 qualifier against San Marino on October 9.
By then the World Cup will be long gone, but two weeks ahead of England’s opening match against Italy in the Brazilian city of Manaus on June 14, there is all to play for.
England are due to play Ecuador and Honduras during their time in Miami and although all three of their pre-tournament opponents are ranked outside the world’s top 25 nations, defender Phil Jagielka believes the matches represent opportunities that must be seized.
“It is all about momentum,” said the Everton centre-back, whose side will also come up against Uruguay and Costa Rica in Brazil.
“If we can get some decent results in the friendlies we have got before the tournament, we can get some confidence going.
“The lads are really positive and we have got some fantastic players. People may be playing down our chance, but momentum is a fantastic thing in football.”
Jagielka, who recently spent two months on the sidelines with a hamstring problem, will be one of several players hoping to prove their fitness against Peru.
Arsenal midfielder Jack Wilshere is another, having also spent two months out of action after sustaining a hairline foot fracture in England’s last game, a 1-0 friendly win at home to Denmark in March.
However, the game is likely to come too soon for Manchester United defender Phil Jones, who has not yet resumed full-contact training after damaging his shoulder in a game against Hull City earlier this month.
Liverpool youngster Jon Flanagan and Jagielka’s Everton team-mate John Stones remain with the squad on standby in case Jones is unable to prove his fitness in time.
As during last week’s training camp in Portugal, England’s players have been wearing extra layers in training this week to prepare their bodies for the cloying heat and humidity of Manaus.
With Hodgson’s thoughts beginning to turn towards England’s Group D opener against Italy, the Peru game will likely see Wayne Rooney and Daniel Sturridge given another opportunity to hone their partnership up front.
But the England manager has also been tipped to experiment, with young Everton midfielder Ross Barkley and teenage left-back Luke Shaw both in line to feature.
Rooney, himself a former Everton academy graduate, has described 20-year-old Barkley as a “fantastic” player.
The United striker added: “I’ve been watching a lot of the Everton games and seeing what he has done there is great, having a young English lad coming through like that.
“Training with him and seeing him up close is great. He has got so much talent and if he gets his chance, I am sure he will do fantastic and he can light up this World Cup.”