Two surprise players odds-against to start World Cup game with Italy
Although there is still the best part of six months until England kick off their World Cup campaign against Italy, the majority of Roy Hodgson’s starting line up for the Group D opener is already largely predictable.
Joe Hart is as good as certain to start in goal, Gary Cahill and Phil Jagielka played the last four qualifiers in partnership at centre half, Steven Gerrard will skipper the side in midfield and Wayne Rooney will be the focal point of attack, all barring injuries of course.
Betting is available relating to the prospects of 23 possible starters for the game with Italy, with the five players mentioned above priced up respectively at 1/5, 1/3, 1/3, 1/8 and 1/20.
In total, there are 10 players that are odds-on to start against Italy, with another duo available at 1/1. However, it is another two players that are even bigger prices that look the best bets in this particular market.
Leighton Baines is 11/10 to start against Italy and Danny Welbeck 6/5 and there are clear reasons as to why Hodgson will begin with both in Manaus.
Ashley Cole has fallen out of favour with Jose Mourinho at Chelsea, starting only one Premier League match since the first week of November and should he continue to be frozen out, it will be nigh on impossible for Hodgson to pick him.
However, the injury to Branislav Ivanovic in the clash with Liverpool does boost Cole’s chances of re-establishing himself in the Chelsea first team.
Baines has missed a month himself, although this has been because of injury rather than being dropped, but there is little chance of him falling out of favour with Roberto Martinez, given his attacking capabilities from left back.
The Everton team that Martinez started in the victory over Southampton indicated that Baines could start alongside his understudy Bryan Oviedo, who was positioned slightly further forward.
As for Welbeck, he looks to be one of the favourites of Hodgson, with starts in the last four World Cup qualifiers for which he was available, alongside in all four England fixtures at Euro 2012.
Four goals in his last four Manchester United appearances will do Welbeck’s claims no harm either, as a lack of goals as often been the biggest complaint of the striker’s game.
Robin van Persie is expected back in early 2014, which will limit Welbeck’s playing time, but there is the possibility that he can play in an advanced forward position on the left for the Red Devils, which is also where is most likely to start for England.