Apathy & indifference clouds England's new era

Roy Hodgson will begin life without former skipper Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard as Wayne Rooney leads out a youthful and dynamic Three Lions side against Norway
The distinct lack of fanfare will be impossible to ignore when England take on Norway in an early season friendly at Wembley on Wednesday.

Barring a late surge of ticket sales, the Football Association is expecting between 35,000 and 40,000 spectators at the match - figures that would constitute the lowest attendance for any game at Wembley since it was opened in its rebuilt form in 2007.

Norway are less than glamorous opponents but much of the public apathy has come about as a direct consequence of England’s disastrous World Cup campaign in Brazil, which lasted less than six days in earnest and yielded a solitary point against an already qualified Costa Rica.

Reaction to Roy Hodgson’s latest squad has also been decidedly mixed. Some view the inclusion of the uncapped Danny Rose, Calum Chambers and Fabian Delph as a promising sign of long-term planning, while others have interpreted it as the latest indictment of the country’s ever-narrowing talent pool.

But the Norway game remains compelling for several reasons. With Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard now gone, Jordan Henderson and Jack Wilshere will get their first opportunity to work as a partnership in midfield. 

Youngsters John Stones and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain have another chance to prove they will be key figures at international level over the next decade, while Raheem Sterling can once again bolster his already strong case. 

It will also be interesting to see what effect receiving the captain’s armband will have on Wayne Rooney. The Manchester United star has said all the right things regarding the honour but, once on the pitch, the onus will be on England’s divisive talisman to lift and lead an inexperienced side.

With the expansion of the European Championship to 24 teams in 2016 making qualification very likely, the next two years should allow Hodgson the freedom to gradually build a coherent team out of some exciting young parts. Against Norway at Wembley he will take his first steps.

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