England v Italy: Match Preview

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England v Italy; Euro 2012 quarter-final; Kiev Olympic Stadium; 19:45 KO

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England boss Roy Hodgson is expected to name an unchanged side for tonight’s clash against Italy in the Euro 2012 quarter-final.

With no new injury concerns following the 1-0 victory over Ukraine on Tuesday night, all XI players are expected to get their chance in the knockout stage, meaning Danny Welbeck is likely to partner Wayne Rooney up-front.

For Italy, defender Giorgio Chiellini misses out with a thigh injury picked up in the 2-0 win against Ireland, with Leonardo Bonucci set to replace the Juventus man.

The other predicament lies up-front, with Mario Balotelli, Antonio Cassano and Antonio Di Natale fighting for two places in Cesare Prandelli’s side.

Hodgson & Gerrard laud ‘JT’ influence

England manager Roy Hodgson and captain Steven Gerrard have heaped special praise on defender John Terry ahead of tonight’s quarter-final clash with Italy.

The Chelsea skipper was a controversial selection pre-tournament, with allegations of racial abuse towards QPR defender Anton Ferdinand still hanging over the centre back’s head.

Whilst a court case is scheduled for July, the former Three Lions captain has performed at a high level for his country throughout Euro 2012, and it hasn’t gone unnoticed amongst the England hierarchy.

“The important thing is that it’s not just about one captain in the squad. We’ve got a lot of leaders and fantastic people around the set-up,” said the Liverpool midfielder.

“The reason we are doing so well is because everyone is pulling in the right direction and leading by example.

“John Terry has been a big part of that. His performances have been superb and we’ll certainly need another against Italy – that’s for sure.”

Hodgson also heaped praise on Terry, whose off-field influence at the 2010 World Cup was questioned as a major factor against England’s performances.

“He has been very good off the field as well as on it. As a coach, you have to be very careful taking on board these rumours, these fears, these suggestions about people,” said the former West Brom boss.

“So it is important you choose the players you think are the right players and you work with them and get the experience for yourself.

“I can only talk about JT and the four to five weeks I have been working with him. He has been a top-class professional and excellent around the place. Like Steven, he has done an awfully good job helping me and my coaching staff get messages across to the players.

“John cottoned on quickly to what we wanted to do. So has Steven, of course. He has spoken very eloquently on the lines that we don’t have any regrets when we come off the pitch.

“In other words, we have done everything we could have in terms of being together as a team and working hard to win the match.”

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