at the Union Buildings in Pretoria
Roy Hodgson is poised to play Andy Carroll in tandem with Danny Welbeck against Sweden, with Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain set to make way for England’s most expensive footballer.
After drawing the first Group D game against France, Hodgson is planning a more aggressive approach for Friday’s Euro 2012 clash in Kiev. He is expected to bring in Carroll to join Welbeck up front in a 4-4-2 formation, having paired them in training at Kiev’s Olympic Stadium last night. Ashley Young is likely to start wide on the left. Hodgson also considered using the pace of Theo Walcott and is thought to have assured the Arsenal winger he will play a key role in the tournament. Six of the last seven goals conceded by Sweden have been headers and England won 1-0 in a friendly at Wembley in November with a header by Gareth Barry.
Hodgson suspects Sweden manager Erik Hamren will be terrified of Carroll, who ended the season in top form.
Group D is wide open, although England will be in trouble if they lose tonight.
Neither Hodgson nor his captain Steven Gerrard put the Swedes – or Tuesday’s opponents Ukraine – in the same class as the French.
The manager said: “To be brutally honest, France are one of the favourites to win the competition and Sweden and Ukraine are not.”
Gerrard added: “With respect to Sweden, who are a good, strong team, they are not France. We can be a bit more bold and ambitious and get at the Swedes more. We’re confident if we reach the same level of performance we’ll get a victory.”
France manager Laurent Blanc would seem to disagree. “We can’t repeat the first 30 minutes against England,” he said. “If we had played against a really good side it would have been over.”
England will be wary of Sweden captain Zlatan Ibrahimovic despite his record of scoring in only three of 19 games against English teams for club and country.
Former England manager Sven Goran Eriksson said: “He is a player English journalists like to criticise but I wouldn’t be surprised if he scores the goal that wins the game.” – Daily Mail