England v Belgium: Match Preview

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Team News

Roy Hodgson is expected to make several changes from the team that beat Norway 1-0 last weekend. The England boss will likely field his strongest starting XI in his side’s final warm-up preparation for Euro 2012 after all 23 of his squad trained on Friday.

Manchester United striker Danny Welbeck and Liverpool full-back Glen Johnson should feature after both missed out against Norway, and Arsenal star Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain is in line for his first England start.

Hodgson has played down concerns over the fitness of Scott Parker, and the Tottenham man will partner England captain Steven Gerrard in the middle of midfield.

Injuries to Gareth Barry and Frank Lampard have left the Three Lions short of experience in the crucial central midfield position, and Jordan Henderson and Phil Jagielka have both received late call-ups, while Theo Walcott should be fit despite requiring heavy ankle strapping during training.

Hodgson is also likely to hand starting places to Joe Hart, John Terry and Ashley Cole as he looks to give his established players a final run-out before the tournament starts next week.

Belgium, who failed to qualify for Euro 2012 after finishing third behind Germany and Turkey, will field a number of Premier League stars, including new Chelsea recruit Eden Hazard, Arsenal centre-back Thomas Vermaelen, Fulham forward Moussa Dembele and Chelsea striker Romelu Lukaku.

Marc Wilmot's side have a huge amount of top-flight experience, and should pose a stern test for England before they face France on June 11.

Despite the injury problems, England skipper Steven Gerrard believes the warm-up games give his side vital competitive preparation before the tournament.

“First and foremost it is a huge blow that Frank has to go home,” said Gerrard. “But as players, when you go out to train and play you have to give 100% and can’t afford to hold back because you can pick up injuries.”

This evening’s match against Belgium will be Hodgson’s last chance to assess the squad before he picks a team to face France in England’s opening group game on June 11.

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