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Joe Hart: Italy will face a brand new England

The goalkeeper says Roy Hodgson's side has made great strides forward in the last two years and has no concerns about Manaus pitch ahead of World Cup opener Saturday.

RIO DE JANEIRO — Joe Hart believes Italy will face a brand new England team in their opening World Cup game Saturday.

Roy Hodgson has taken a youthful squad to Brazil and Hart believes the Three Lions represent far more of a threat than at Euro 2012, when they were knocked out of the tournament by Italy at the quarterfinal stage on penalties.

“The Euros was two years ago. We’ve all moved and we are looking forward to this game now as a new team with a lot of changes and positives,” said the England goalkeeper ahead of the clash in Manaus. “So much has changed since then and so much has changed for us. We’ve moved forward as a squad. We’ve made nothing but positive strides forward.

“It’s exciting times. We’re a positive team and we’re looking to stamp our authority on the game and look to win. We know what we are capable of.”

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Concerns have been raised over the state of the Manaus pitch after pictures emerged showing the playing surface in a dry and patchy condition.

Hart insists England is not thinking about the pitch or the humid climate in the Amazonian city as it prepares for the Group D game.

He added: “It’s a football pitch. We’re playing in the middle of the jungle, it’s a different experience for us, an interesting and exciting one. We would play on anything in the World Cup. We’ve worked hard and had a good three weeks together. We’ve spent a lot of time together as a group and feel like a team.  And personally, I feel ready for what’s going to come my way.”

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