World Cup: Sterling starts in Manaus for England
Roy Hodgson unleashed Liverpool’s Raheem Sterling as England set up to attack Italy in their World Cup opener in Manaus.
Hodgson has been full of praise for Sterling’s performances in training this week and now the winger has a chance to show he can cut it on the biggest stage in world football.
The 19-year-old midfielder was handed just his third England start in an attack-minded XI, which contained five Liverpool players in total.
England were expected to line up in a 4-2-3-1 formation in Manaus, where temperatures exceeded 30 degrees Celsius.
Danny Welbeck and Wayne Rooney started alongside Sterling in a three-pronged forward line behind main striker Daniel Sturridge.
Naming such a pacy front four was a bold move by England manager Hodgson - a man often criticised for being too conservative.
Jordan Henderson’s fine season with Liverpool earned him a place in midfield alongside captain Steven Gerrard, who won his 112th cap.
There were no surprises in defence as Hodgson selected Gary Cahill and Phil Jagielka at centre-back.
Glen Johnson and Leighton Baines started at right and left-back respectively while Joe Hart made his first World Cup appearance in goal.
England were handed a massive boost before kick-off when Italy captain Gianluigi Buffon was ruled out with an ankle injury.