Roy Hodgson has decided to to start with Danny Welbeck instead of in form Raheem Sterling against Italy in Manaus tonight.

England will begin their World Cup campaign against Italy at the Arena Amazonia late on Saturday evening. If England are to reach the knock-out phase, they must navigate their way through Group D, which also contains Uruguay, Italy and Costa Rica.

Manchester United man Welbeck had been a major doubt after missing training due to a thigh injury on Tuesday and Wednesday, but Hodgson was confident that he is fit to start.

“Yes, Danny’s fit. I’m very fortunate that even after four weeks of preparation, the only player who isn’t available for selection is Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain.

Question marks remain over the starting XI, as players like Daniel Sturridge, Ross Barkley and Raheem Sterling are pushing for a place.

“I’m not afraid of giving youth a chance. We’ve only to think back to 1958 and Pele bursting on to the scene as a 17-year-old. He went on to dominate football and become one of the most, if not the most, famous footballers of all time.

“You’ve seen plenty of examples in the World Cup; Diego Maradona was very young when he first started playing for Argentina. Johan Cruyff was another one when he was dominating European football for Holland.

“I think it has been one of my toughest team selections. There’s a lot of people really showing that they’ve got the form and the quality we’re looking for.

“When I actually name the XI there will be some disappointed people.”

Hodgson feels Wayne Rooney will also silence his critics by firing England to victory in their opening World Cup match against Italy tonight.

“I’ve been following the career of people like Wayne Rooney and Steve Gerrard for many years, before that David Beckham went through plenty of periods when people had lots to say about him as well, and yet they survive it well,” said Hodgson.

“If anyone in any walk of life wanted to find out how you deal with that sort of criticism, then people like Wayne Rooney and Beckham would be good guys to turn to I think.

“It will be for Wayne to show them (the critics) really. The World Cup is a major event, the coverage is quite enormous, it’s just par for the course that there are going to be lots of opinions. A lot of those opinions will be opinions that players may not want to hear. But the good thing is, Wayne Rooney has got a chance.”

Probable line-ups

England: Hart; Johnson, Cahill, Jagielka, Baines; Henderson, Gerrard; Lallana, Rooney, Welbeck; Sturridge

Italy: Buffon; Darmian, Barzagli, Paletta, Chiellini; De Rossi; Candreva, Pirlo, Verratti, MarchisioBalotelli

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