World Cup: Raheem Sterling starts for England against Italy in Manaus
Last Updated: 14/06/14 10:11pm
Raheem Sterling will start for England against Italy in their World Cup opener in Manaus tonight.
The Liverpool winger will start on the right wing in place of Adam Lallana, but England will otherwise be unchanged from the team which started in the 0-0 draw with Honduras in their last warm-up match.
There are no surprises at the back, with Joe Hart in goal and the now well-established back four of Glen Johnson, Leighton Baines, Phil Jagielka and Gary Cahill.
Skipper Steven Gerrard and Liverpool team-mate Jordan Henderson will be the holding midfielders, providing the shield for the back four.
Sterling will provide the width on the right and Manchester United's Danny Welbeck will operate down the left, with Wayne Rooney playing behind Daniel Sturridge in an England line-up full of pace and attacking intent.
England boss Roy Hodgson is known to have been hugely impressed with Sterling in training and given him the nod to start ahead of Southampton's Lallana.
Sky Sports expert Alan Smith said: "I think it was a straight choice between Sterling and Lallana. With Sterling's pace on the counter and the form and mood he's in I think it's the right way to go."
Sky Sports News' Nick Collins added: "I think it's just the evidence in front of his (Hodgson's) own eyes. I think he's looked at training and thought 'you know what, this player is doing better than anyone.'
"He's young, he's really up for it and he's coming off the back of a great season with Liverpool. He's in the form of his life. Sometimes the younger players are the fearless ones as well. I think all of that has helped contribute to that selection decision."
Italy earlier confirmed that their captain and goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon will miss the match because of an injury. Mario Balotelli, the former Manchester City striker, starts.
England: Hart, Johnson, Baines, Jagielka, Cahill, Gerrard, Henderson, Sterling, Welbeck, Rooney, Sturridge
Italy: Sirigu, Darmain,Barzagli, Paletta, Chiellini, Verratti, Pirlo, De Rossi, Candreva, Marchisio, Balotelli