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England head coach Roy Hodgson said that captain Steven Gerrard was fit and that midfielder Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain was making good progress with just days to go before their first World Cup match against Italy. Speaking at a news conference at the team's base camp at the Urca Military base close to Rio's famous Sugarloaf mountain, Hodgson said he was positive despite the two players being the only ones out of the 23-man squad not to take full part in Monday's training session.
"My understanding is that he did some extra work at the end of the training session so there's actually nothing wrong with him so I don't really understand that story at all." Hodgson said, speaking about Gerrard, "As far as Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain's concerned I think he did very well, you may have seen yesterday the running he was doing, admittedly in straight lines at the moment, but it's still very positive that he can run so well and so fast in straight lines, and we'll be stepping up his training programme during the course of the week," Hodgson said. Oxlade-Chamberlain is recovering from a knee injury picked up in a 2-2 draw against Ecuador in Miami.
England face Italy in their opening World Cup match in the Amazonian city of Manaus on Saturday (June 14), and Hodgson said the team was preparing for Italy as a team and not just focusing on star playmaker, Andrea Pirlo. "It's quite normal that people will focus on him," Hodgson said, "But I think that there are a lot of other players in that Italian team who are worthy of attention too. So as far as we're concerned we're really focusing on Italy the team, and not getting hung up on one player, because I think Prandelli will tell you his team does not depend totally on Andrea Pirlo," the coach said. Hodgson went on to explain that he would ensure the team was totally prepared ahead of the kick-off. "I don't really work on instincts, I work on logic and I work on what we're able to do in terms of our preparations. I would like to think that when the whistle blows we'll feel confident that we've covered everything that it's possible to cover with regard to Italy and what we're facing." Hodgson said. "I'll be thinking are we doing the right things, are we carrying out all the work that we've tried to do. ... I'll be thinking all the time, how are we defending? How are we attacking? Do we need any changes? Is anyone injured? And all those thoughts a football coach will have in every game."
England will also face Uruguay and Costa Rica in their other Group D fixtures. The World Cup begins on Thursday (June 12) when the hosts Brazil play Croatia in Sao Paulo. The final will be at Rio's Maracana Stadium on July 13.
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"England Ready to Face Italy in World Cup "