Roy pleased with Italy challenge

England manager Roy Hodgson believes Wednesday’s friendly with Italy is just the sort of test his players need in order to ensure they are adequately prepared for their upcoming 2014 World Cup qualification campaign (England 6/4, draw 11/5, Italy 6/4 – Match Betting).

The Three Lions play the Azzurri in Switzerland just two months after the two sides met in the quarter-finals of Euro 2012 in Kyiv.

Italy progressed to the semi-finals on penalty kicks on that occasion, eventually reaching the final before losing 4-0 to Spain.

Wednesday’s game is the first of a series of challenging friendlies planned around England’s qualification fixtures, with Sweden, Scotland, Brazil and Uruguay all lying in wait over the next 12 months.

Hodgson believes such encounters are vital for his team’s development and he will get much more out of them than games against lesser ranked sides (England 20/1 to win the World Cup).

“No one could accuse us of taking the easy route to get a few cheap victories,” said Hodgson.

“But it is important to play top quality opponents. There is not a lot of point for me in assessing players against countries that are not really going to be able to beat us.”

Hodgson has selected a number of fringe players for Wednesday’s encounter, with Tottenham duo Jake Livermore and Steven Caulker called up for the first time, while Tom Cleverley and John Ruddy will also be hoping to make their first international appearances.

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