ENGLAND open up their World Cup with a match against Italy in Manaus tomorrow night.

Who among us thinks it is going to end as anything other than a draw?

This is a difficult group to get through, and, if you take nothing from your first game, the pressure will increase considerably.

I have noticed that, after a subdued build-up, the expectation surrounding England has started to grow the nearer we have got to the action.

Roy Hodgson is being encouraged to throw in the talented young players he has taken to Brazil, but I reckon he will resist this.

I can see Adam Lallana getting a start. But the likes of Raheem Sterling and Ross Barkley will be held in reserve and sent on as impact players in the closing stages of the match against Italy.

Andrea Pirlo appears to be the man they fear most. But, great player though he has been, at 35, I am not convinced the little Juventus midfielder is as effective as he once was.

The important thing for England is to put him on his back foot, not allow him the time and space to have them on their heels.

And I would certainly have Wayne Rooney in my team. In fact, if fit, he'd always be in my starting XI.

Much has been made of the fact that, for all his goals for his country, Wayne has not scored any in the World Cup finals.

My counter argument to that is, his contribution allows others to get the goals and makes England play better.

I wouldn't play Wayne up front, however, nor wide left.

Put him in behind the main striker, preferably Daniel Sturridge, and let him control the game from there.

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