Norway v England preview

England’s opening game of Euro 2012 is little more than two weeks away as Roy Hodgson takes charge of his first match since being parachuted in as the successor to Fabio Capello.Image text here

The nation is eagerly anticipating how Hodgson’s side will shape up in their friendly international against Norway in Oslo on Saturday, with the new man at the helm sure to be under the spotlight immediately for his team selection and tactics.

The international squad named by Hodgson just days after concluding his career withWest Brom only met up for the first time on Wednesday of this week, and there were a number of notable absentees from the players present.

Chelsea’s UEFA Champions League winning quartet of John Terry, Frank Lampard, Ashley Cole and Gary Cahill have been given additional time off following their success against Bayern Munich and the celebrations that followed.

And star striker Wayne Rooney, who will miss the opening two matches of Euro 2012 through suspension, will not join up with the rest of the squad until Tuesday after being given additional time off to recover from a minor injury he carried through the final games of the season.

Options limited

Right-back Glen Johnson is struggling with a toe problem which has severely limited his involvement in training so far, with Liverpool club colleague Martin Kelly brought into the squad as cover purely for this weekend’s fixture.

Hodgson’s options in defence are limited by the Chelsea absentees which means Phil Jagielka, who is only on the standby list for Poland and Ukraine, could start at centre-back alongside Joleon Lescott, with Phil Jones moving to right-back.

Third-choice goalkeeper John Ruddy’s untimely broken finger has seen his place in the party taken by young understudy Jack Butland, but it would be a major surprise if the Birmingham goalkeeper, who has yet to make his debut for Blues, is thrust into the action this weekend.

Former Fulham and Liverpool boss Hodgson also has concerns in attack, with United striker Danny Welbeck hampered by the ankle injury he sustained in the Manchester derby defeat, leaving only Andy Carroll and Jermain Defoe as recognised front men in the party.

New captain Steven Gerrard will lead the side from central midfield, but it remains to be seen if Scott Parker is risked despite coming through training on Wednesday and Thursday with no apparent ill effects from the Achilles problem which affected him in the closing stages of the campaign.



Following Saturday’s game in Norway, Hodgson will have his full squad together for the Wembley friendly against Belgium next weekend before jetting off to Poland and Ukraine.

Norway finished third in a tough qualifying group which also included Denmark and Portugal, with Egil Olsen’s side finishing three points adrift of their Scandinavian neighbours and level with the Portuguese, missing out on the play-offs only on goal difference.

A number of English-based players featured heavily in the qualifying campaign, including Fulham duo Brede Hangeland and John Arne Riise, Blackburn’s Morten Gamst Pedersen and Erik Huseklepp, who turned out for both Portsmouth and Birmingham this season.

Hannover striker Moa Abdellaoue is set to lead the line for Norway having attracted interest from a number of Premier League clubs following his displays for club and country this term, with a number of scouts due to watch him in action.