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Uruguay a must win for England - Daniel Sturridge

Wayne Rooney, left, trains in Rio de Janeiro with the England squad yesterday. Picture: PA

Wayne Rooney, left, trains in Rio de Janeiro with the England squad yesterday. Picture: PA

  • by COLIN STEWART IN RIO DE JANEIRO
 

LUIS Suarez may be capable of ending England’s World Cup dreams but Daniel Sturridge hopes the Uruguay striker will be fit for Thursday’s crunch clash in Sao Paulo.

England started their World Cup campaign with an encouraging performance in Manaus but the 2-1 defeat by Italy leaves Roy Hodgson’s men in serious danger of heading home early. To stop that happening, Sturridge believes England “must” beat Uruguay in Sao Paulo on Thursday.

Sturridge’s Liverpool team-mate Suarez is a doubt for the game because of a knee injury, although he insisted himself last night he is “100 per cent” ready for the match if called upon.

Suarez scored 31 goals for Liverpool last season and collected a host of individual awards in the process, but Sturridge wants to see his team-mate line up against him later this week.

“I wish him well and I hope he is fit,” the England striker said. “We want to face the best Uruguay possible.”

Suarez did not come off the bench in Uruguay’s shock defeat by Costa Rica on Saturday but the striker has indicated that he will be fit for Thursday’s game at the Itaquerao Stadium.

Suarez sent his Liverpool team-mates in the England camp a text when he suffered the injury to tell them that he would be fit to face them in the Group D match. But now he has severed all contact with the group, Sturridge revealed.

“I’m not on texting terms [with him],” the former Chelsea striker said. “He’s not asked me for any clues and I won’t be asking for any clues from him.”

Sturridge enjoyed what he termed a “telepathic” and successful partnership with Suarez last season.

But they both experienced huge disappointment two months ago when they led the Barclays Premier League, only to let the title slip through their fingers. They needed West Ham to beat Manchester City on the final day of the season and that did not happen.

Sturridge is therefore wary of England relying on other results to make it through their group and he believes they cannot afford to drop points against Uruguay.

“A draw could be enough [if other results go England’s way], but, from what I have learned at Liverpool, you need to get the job done when it’s in your hands because you know it’s best to do it yourselves rather than ask for favours,” he said. “We know what we have to do and if we lose we are going home.”

England fly to Sao Paulo tomorrow. It looks as though Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain will be fit for the game after he stepped up his recovery from a knee injury.

The Arsenal midfielder took part in training at England’s base in Rio yesterday, exchanging passes with his team-mates in the warm-up.

The calls for Wayne Rooney to be dropped may be growing but they are falling on deaf ears inside the England camp, with Danny Welbeck backing his team-mate to make a difference wherever he is deployed.

Roy Hodgson’s side earned much praise, albeit no points, with their display in Saturday’s entertaining 2-1 defeat by Italy in the difficult conditions of Manaus.

England’s attack was widely praised by onlookers, but Rooney’s performance was muted compared to the rest of the front four. Starting in an unfavoured left role, he provided a fine assist but looked uncomfortable at times, leading some to propose that he should be dropped for the must-win clash against Uruguay – a suggestion put to England and Manchester United team-mate Welbeck.

“First and foremost, Wayne Rooney is a class player and I think wherever he is playing on the pitch he can make a massive impact,” the striker said.

“I think all the forward players with England have the flexibility to move in and round, interchange positions.

“Wayne was on the left in the first game and, in the second or third game, he could be in a different position.

“Waz is the top all-time scorer for England currently playing, he has got 93 caps. When he is on the pitch, he can make a difference.”

The question of whether Rooney can make the same impact when deployed on the flank, though, is a key one.

“Wayne is experienced,” Welbeck said when asked if playing out of position was getting to him.”He can pretty much handle any situation. You say he is playing out of position, but he has played there plenty of times for Manchester United as well.

“He has not just played there in the Premier League, but the Champions League semi-final and final so he is accustomed to that position and can play it well.”

Like Rooney, Welbeck is also having to play away from his preferred position for the greater good, with the Manchester United attacker starting on the right in Manaus before swapping to the left flank at half-time.

“I think I can make an impact from the flanks or down the centre,” he said. “Obviously, I would prefer to play down the centre, but it is the manager who picks the team.

“I am just going to give it the best shot possible.”

 

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