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Just how experimental will England’s Ecuador lineup be?

| 02.06.2014

England fielded what is widely thought to be their XI for their World Cup opener against Italy in their last friendly on English soil before the Brazilian tournament kicks off.

Jordan Henderson partnered Steven Gerrard in midfield against Peru, as Adam Lallana, Danny Welbeck, Wayne Rooney and Daniel Sturridge formed the front four.

The side picked up a 3-0 win that perhaps flattered them slightly, but Hodgson has already aired his plans to change the entire starting lineup for the next assignment, against Ecuador in Miami.

That means that Jack Wilshere and Raheem Sterling, two of the squad perhaps closest to breaking onto that Italy teamsheet, will have a chance to impress the boss.

Wilshere will partner stand-in skipper Frank Lampard in the middle of midfield, and is 6/5 to face the Azzurri from the start, but how the midfield shapes up in America will dominate the pre-match chatter.

Hodgson could opt to employ the diamond system that Brendan Rodgers used at Liverpool, which allowed Raheem Sterling to play his way onto the plane to Brazil.

That would mean using Lampard as the deep-lying playmaker, with Wilshere and James Milner providing the running either side of him.

But, with Ross Barkley in the squad, Hodgson would have to move either the Everton talent or Sterling (who’s 5/6 to start against Italy) further forward to partner Rickie Lambert up front.

Having various options available to him will benefit the England boss as the World Cup progresses and the fluidity of many of the forward players allows him the opportunity to experiment ahead of the tournament’s start. He should not let that opportunity pass.

England are 4/5 to come out on top in the Ecuador clash, with the South American side a 10/3 chance and the draw a 12/5 chance.

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.