England will play their final match on home soil ahead of this summer’s World Cup when Peru visit Wembley Stadium on Friday.
Two more friendlies await, against Ecuador and then Honduras next week in the preparatory heat and humidity of Miami, before England begin their World Cup campaign against Italy in the stifling conditions of Manaus against Italy on June 14. With so much focus on what is to come, coach Roy Hodgson has admitted that Friday’s match had an unfamiliar feel.
“It's a little bit strange this game, but we've done so much focusing on so many things we wanted to establish, that this match suddenly seems to have come out of nowhere," he said, reports Reuters.
"Normally in an England team you spend all your time preparing for this opponent, you talk a lot about the opponent, you talk a lot about how you are going to play against this opponent. I must admit on this occasion our work has been much more focused on June 14. But it's a game we're really looking forward to and we're going to take very seriously. We're all desperate to leave England having left behind a very good impression with our fans.”
While Hodgson will want to use the opportunity to work with his team ahead of trying to negotiate a tough World Cup group that also contains Uruguay and Costa Rica, avoiding injuries will also be at the forefront of everyone’s minds. That is especially true given England’s recent history prior to major tournaments. Before Euro 2012, Hodgson lost Gary Cahill and Gareth Barry, while Wayne Rooney has not appeared fully fit heading into the last two World Cups. In the 2002 World Cup, David Beckham was still lacking full fitness and Steven Gerrard and Gary Neville has been ruled out before the event.
It comes as a relief then that Luke Shaw is the only doubt ahead of the game against Peru, with the Southampton left-back battling a heavy cold. Manchester United defender Phil Jones was the biggest concern when Hodgson named his squad for Brazil, but the Manchester United defender has returned to training after a shoulder injury. Jack Wilshere is likely to be given game time on Friday, having played just 45 minutes of competitive action since breaking a bone in his foot in England’s friendly against Denmark at the start of March.
There will also be much interest in how Rooney can combine with Daniel Sturridge. Due to injuries, England’s likely first-choice forward pairing have featured little together and when they have it has appeared awkward as Hodgson looks to get the best out of them in a formation featuring just one out-and-out striker.
“It's one of many potential combinations,” Hodgson said of the Manchester United and Liverpool pair. “What I can say is they are two excellent players, two first class players, and I've always been of the belief that when you've got first class players who really don't have any particular weaknesses, there is no reason why they can't play together.
“I sometimes think we complicate things by suggesting that two good players can't play together because there are some similarities, I don't really subscribe to that.”
The match will be the first time that England have met Peru in a senior international in over 50 years. It will also be the first in charge for Peru coach Pablo Bengoechea who took over following the team’s failure to qualify for the World Cup, finishing seventh out of nine in the South American section.
Where to watch: The international friendly will kick off at 3 p.m. ET. Coverage will be provided by Fox Sports 2, with a live stream available on Fox Soccer 2Go.