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Friendlies

  • 2 June 2012
  • • 17:15
  • • Wembley Stadium, London
  • Referee: P. Rasmussen
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England - Belgium Preview: Hodgson looking for perfect start to continue despite Lampard injury blow

England - Belgium Preview: Hodgson looking for perfect start to continue despite Lampard injury blow

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The 64-year-old's men triumphed by the narrowest of margins against Norway in Oslo and will now look to maintain momentum ahead of Euro 2012 in front of the Wembley crowd

  PROBABLE LINEUPS

ENGLAND

Hart
Jones, Terry, Cahill, Cole
Walcott, Milner, Parker, Downing
Gerrard

Carroll
BELGIUM

Mignolet
Alderweireld, Kompany, Vermaelen, Vertonghen
Witsel, Defour, Fellaini, Hazard
Dembele
Mertens


Frank Lampard has become the latest member of the England squad to pull out of Euro 2012 after scans revealed that the midfielder's thigh injury, picked up in training, will rule him out of action. Jordan Henderson should replace the Chelsea man in the squad, and could play some part against Belgium on Saturday.

Lampard joins Gareth Barry (groin), who was also forced to withdraw from the squad following a problem picked up against Norway, Roy Hodgson has called up Everton's Phil Jagielka to replace the Manchester City midfielder.

Scott Parker is struggling for fitness after a recent Achilles problem and Ashley Young missed one team session during the week in order to focus on an individual fitness problem and he may be rested at Wembley. Wayne Rooney, Danny Welbeck and Glen Johnson are all also expected to miss out with injury.

However, the England manager will have the Chelsea contingent, minus Lampard, available once more after they returned from a prolonged break following the Champions League final.

Belgium's Premier League stars are expected to be out in force on Saturday, as they plan to spoil England's preparations for next week's Euro 2012 opener against France. Manchester City skipper Vincent Kompany and Chelsea's Romelu Lukaku should feature, while the Blues' new man Eden Hazard is also in line to face a number of new team-mates.

Despite missing the majority of their Premier League season, Arsenal's Thomas Vermaelen has been included in Marc Wilmots' squad and could be fit in time to face England, while Sunderland keeper Simon Mignolet, Everton midfielder Marouane Fellaini and Fulham star Moussa Dembele are all also potential starters.

  DID YOU KNOW?
  • The goal-line technology system 'Hawk-Eye' will be trialled during the friendly at Wembley, however officials will not have access to the data produced.
  • England are unbeaten in 10 meetings, in normal time, with Belgium since the Second World War. The visitors have only beaten England twice.
  • The Three Lions have a 70% winning record against Belgium, bettered only by their rate against Northern Ireland (from sides played at least 12 times).
  • Providing an assist ever 185 minutes while playing for England, Stewart Downing (pictured right) has the best rate of any player in the home side's squad.
  • Following Jordan Henderson's call-up, former Liverpool boss Hodgson now has five Reds' players included, more than from any other club.
  • Belgium drew 2-2 at home to Montenegro, who finished second behind England's Euro 2012 qualifying group, on Friday in their last friendly match.
  • Vincent Kompany & Co. faced the Three Lions' Group D opponents, France, in November and managed to hold Laurent Blanc's side to a 0-0 draw.
  • Marc Wilmots' side lost only once during the 2011-12 season, suffering a 3-1 reverse at the hands of Germany in their final Euro 2012 qualifier in October 2011.

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International Friendlies ‎(FR)‎ 2 Jun 2012 England 1 - Belgium 0
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Steven Gerrard
Steven Gerrard
Position: Midfielder
Squad Number: 4
Games Goals YC RC
3 0 1 0
With Hodgson's central midfield options falling like flies, the new England boss needs a big tournament from his captain. Following injuries to Barry and Lampard it is unclear what exact role Gerrard will take up in the team, but whether he is asked he lie deep with Scott Parker, or push on and support Andy Carroll, and then Wayne Rooney, he will definitely be asked to lead.

Some have said that Lampard's injury could be a blessing in disguise in allowing the manager to dodge the dreaded question of whether Gerrard and the Chelsea man can play together. In truth, Lampard's absence will be a huge blow and the 32-year-old Reds' midfielder needs to be on top form, starting with a convincing display on Saturday.
Eden Hazard
Eden Hazard
Position: Midfielder
Squad Number: 7
Games Goals YC RC
4 1 0 0
The 21-year-old finally announced that he has chosen Chelsea as his destination for next season, and as if hearing about the various changes in his proposed decision for the past months was not enough, he is coming to Wembley on Saturday.

The youngest man ever to win Ligue 1's player of the year has indeed caused a huge amount of hype in the way he has gone about securing his move, however it must be said that it is not completely unjust. Scoring 20 goals, and assisting 16 more, in 30 league games last season, the Belgian is very much a bright spark. His pace, runs and trickery will definitely be a tough, but welcomed test for England's back-line.
Prediction
Belgium are likely to provide much more attacking flair than the rather flat Norwegian outfit that England faced a week ago, and Hodgson's defence will need to be solid and organised as it was in Oslo, although personnel may change. England's attack must also carry more of a threat, which will also be needed to succeed against the bigger sides in the European Championships.

The hosts will be looking to make an impression on the countries travelling to Poland and Ukraine with the mindset that they pose little threat, however with recent injury blows scuppering preparation, a victory will be a big ask.
Editor's Prediction

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