England need a big game from Rooney, Uruguay just need Suarez

Roy Hodgson and Oscar Tabarez both gamble on their strikers for do-or-die Group D clash in Sao Paulo

David McKechnie and Emmet Malone preview the England V Uruguay Group D match tonight.

 

Both managers suggested they will take punts on their star strikers this evening at the Arena Corinthians where England and Uruguay will both be fighting for World Cup survival.

Roy Hodgson says he expects a big game from Wayne Rooney, who is set to play at the heart of his side’s attack but, Oscar Tabarez admits he is less sure how Luis Suarez will fare.

“If he plays tomorrow,” the 67-year-old noted at the team’s press conference, “we must consider the possibility he may not be the player he was last season with Liverpool. But even if he is not 100 per cent, he is still important.”

Certain to play

If the 27 year-old had been anyway close to completely recovered from his recent knee surgery Tabarez would surely have risked him in the latter stages of a game against Costa Rica the Uruguayans badly needed to take something from.

Now, as Hodgson suggests, they are effectively playing knockout football and there is nothing left to save the Liverpool striker for.

“He has recovered very well,” insisted the coach who guided much the same group of players to the semi-finals four years ago followed by the Copa America title a year later, “so he has been training and playing with his team-mates in the last week but obviously that is not the same as a match.”

It is not but Tabarez can have no doubt about the need to get him back after his side’s flat performance against Costa Rica.

Diego Forlan’s performance highlighted the extent to which his powers have waned since he won the Golden Ball (award for the tournament’s outstanding player) in South Africa while Edinson Cavani also disappointed in the more advanced striker’s role.

Tabarez has problems in defence too, however, with right back Maxi Pereira suspended and veteran skipper Diego Lugano injured, all of which may impact on the manager’s freedom to replace players on the basis they merely played poorly; the last day.

Hodgson finds himself on the verge of what would be a humiliating early exit for his side.

After wondering for so long how they might get past the quarter-finals at a World Cup, the manager’s more immediate task is to avoid the team having its shortest stay at one since 1954.

If they lose tonight, of course, the next few days are likely to be unpleasant for the man who managed Switzerland to USA 1994.

There is still hope, though, and harnessing Rooney’s attacking talents would play an important part in making it a reality.

“We’ve got a very clear perspective as to what Wayne is and what Wayne can do,” Hodgson says. “He has got broad shoulders and we’re hoping for big things from him.”

England are expected to be unchanged in terms of personnel but with Danny Welbeck on the left this time and Raheem Sterling on the right despite excelling in the more central role against the Italians.

Spot on

“There is pressure,” he acknowledged. “We want to stay in the competition so we’ve got to get results in the next two games. No one’s running away from that but worrying about it won’t change anything.

“It is knockout football, even if it is still the group stage. It is for a lot of teams now. Any side who lost their first game is entering the knockout stage already.”

England, on the face of it, have enough about them to save themselves and Hodgson is correct there were plenty of positives from the Italy game. That, though, will be quickly and mercilessly forgotten if things do not go to plan tonight.

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