Inca-ling for Sterling
Ben Linfoot previews England's friendly with Peru at Wembley tonight.
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England's preparations for the World Cup begin at Wembley on Friday night when Peru visit the capital for the international friendly. The game with Peru, who haven't qualified for the World Cup since 1982, is England's final match on home soil before they fly across the Atlantic. Roy Hodgson's team then face Ecuador on June 4 and Honduras on June 7 - both games in Miami - before jetting down to Brazil for the start of the tournament on June 12. So this is the first of three warm-up games for Hodgson's men and it will be used to try out tactical situations, assess the match fitness of players and to help bond several members of the squad who are largely inexperienced at this level. Hodgson has very few injury worries heading into the game. James Milner (cold) and Leighton Baines (family matter) missed training earlier in the week but should be available for selection while Phil Jones, Wayne Rooney, Jack Wilshere and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain all took part in training after ending the Premier League season with various problems. So Hodgson should be able to pick who he wants, whether that be the team he intends to start against Italy or a mixture of potential starters and fringe players. As for Peru, they are missing their player best known to European football fans, Jefferson Farfan of Schalke, through injury, so they will be fielding a team of largely unknown players. It's fair to assume the layers have got their match odds of 9/1 about right considering they won only four of 16 qualifying games when failing to reach Brazil. But would you back England at 1/3 to win a meaningless game less than three weeks before a major tournament? It seems the risk isn't worth the reward to me and if you want to have a bet then small stakes and the goalscorer markets are the way forward. The bet that catches my eye is Raheem Sterling to score first - click on the link to take advantage of Sky Bet's 'Price Boost' on this bet. If he doesn't start then stakes will be returned as long as he doesn't come on when it's 0-0, but there has to be every chance that he will be in the XI given his superb form for Liverpool at the end of the season. His early goals against Manchester City and Norwich helped ensure vital wins at the time for the Reds and Hodgson could well want to see how he copes in a front three for England or in a free role behind the strikers. Wherever he plays, his pace and trickery means that he could well create chances for himself and to have him double the price of Rooney and Liverpool team-mate Daniel Sturridge seems a tad generous.
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