England will host Denmark on Wednesday night at Wembley Stadium in an international friendly matchup that will serve two purposes for Roy Hodgson's squad.
In addition to preparing his players for the 2014 World Cup this coming June, the Three Lions boss will be looking to uncover a few gems ahead of his 23-man roster selection for Brazil. Adding to the pressure and significance, this showdown marks England's last match before Hodgson makes his selection in May.
Plus, England is coming off back-to-back friendly defeats to Germany and Chile last November. What's more, Hodgson's squad was shut out in both losses.
On the other hand, Morten Olsen's Denmark squad failed to qualify for Brazil and will be aiming to earn a signature win over a World Cup contender in hostile territory.
Here we'll get you set with everything you need to know ahead of kickoff.
Date: Wednesday, March 5, 2014
Start Time: 3 p.m. ET, 8 p.m. GMT
Where: Wembley Stadium, London, England
TV: Fox Sports 2 (U.S.), ITV 1 (U.K.)
Live Stream: ITV Live
Top Storyline: Hodgson May Sit Stars
Although England won't want to drop a third consecutive friendly at home, this is Hodgson's final opportunity to examine the fringe players who could potentially boost his squad when the bright lights come on in Brazil this summer.
Therefore, naturally, Hodgson is contemplating making the sacrifice, per ESPN FC:
The Denmark game is very much a game where I've got to think about what experimentations I need. If we take Steven Gerrard, does he need to play against Denmark to prove to me that he needs to play against Italy (in the first match of the World Cup)? Would I be better off playing somebody else because I know what Steven Gerrard can do? He's got 103 caps. Could Rooney be in the same category as Gerrard? And Joe Hart too?
England's recent failures on home soil certainly don't make Hodgson's decision any easier. If the Three Lions weren't riding a two-match losing streak into Wednesday's match, it's likely the 66-year-old wouldn't hesitate to rest his star talent.
Doing some free thinking. Any chance Hodgson goes with Gerrard, Wilshere, Henderson - Sterling, Rooney, Sturridge in Brazil?— Cristian Nyari (@Cnyari) February 24, 2014
Nevertheless, he's running out of time to see his young players and fringe prospects in action. One of them, 23-year-old defender Kyle Walker, is set to miss the match with a groin injury, per Tottenham Hotspur's official website. That'll be something else to watch for on Wednesday.
Which side will prevail?
Although confidence and potential roster spots are the only things at stake on Wednesday, England will desperately want to begin its 2014 campaign on a high note. A loss at home to a non-World Cup squad just three months ahead of the tournament would have fans up in arms and negative vibes flowing across the nation.
At the same time, England won't be crowned World Cup champion or even be made the favorite if it successfully disposes of Denmark at Wembley.
Despite the pressure and the potential of Hodgson resting his big names, England is poised to come through this week. With the World Cup on the horizon and fringe players doing everything they can to earn a roster spot, the home team is sure to put forth its best effort in the English capital.
England 2, Denmark 1
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