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Man United opinion-divider a Brazil cert after Hodgson’s defence

| 05.03.2014

The fun poking began the minute Roy Hodgson announced his 30-man party to battle Denmark at Wembley. One name, the protagonists said, had surely been added in error after a string of unnoticed displays for his club.

Things got so bad for Tom Cleverley that one fan set-up an online petition to get the midfielder banned from the World Cup squad following his Denmark inclusion, with 10,000 people signing up to the campaign.

One man who clearly isn’t from the “he’s only average” school of thought is Roy Hodgson though and his reaction to the petition at his pre-match press conference indicates that the army of detractors won’t get their wish come Rio-time.

Visibly irritated at its creation, Hodgson said: “The fact is Tom Cleverley, from the moment the Euros ended, has been a part of the England set-up, he’s played some very good games for us, he’s been a very useful member of our group.”

The former Liverpool boss used Cleverley as a starter in the first nine World Cup qualifiers, while the 24-year-old has been picked by club manager David Moyes in the first leg of their Champions League tie against Olympiacos as well as in big games in the Premier League.

With continued support from the two men that matter, Cleverley’s odds-on price to travel to Brazil is justified.

At 8/11, the former Watford loanee is ahead of Jordan Henderson (1/1) in the betting despite the Liverpool raider displaying far superior form in the red jersey of his club.

With Steven Gerrard, Jack Wilshere, Michael Carrick and Frank Lampard all ahead of the pair in the betting, it seems both Cleverley and Henderson are in a shootout for the last spot in the squad.

Hodgson’s stern defence of the Manchester United man indicates it’ll be he who gets the nod, much to fans’ disgust.

All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.

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Matt Wiggins

No idyllic sound comes close to leather on willow for Matt, whose previous experience includes stints with Spin Magazine and Surrey County Cricket Club. It's not just cricket that interests him though, with football, golf, tennis and any American sport not played on ice all high on his list of favourites.