1. England team to face Ecuador
I'm in Miami this week for England's two friendlies. Based on a little insider knowledge from a source working with the team, the lineup to face Ecuador on Wednesday looks like it will be as follows:
Of that XI, Jagielka and Rooney will, of course, start against Italy. Outside of those two, only Wilshere, Sterling and Milner have a realistic chance of getting into Roy Hodgson's England team for the World Cup opener.
Of those three, I would say Sterling is the most deserving of getting the chance, but Milner is probably the most likely, given Hodgson's pragmatic nature.
2. Big-name World Cup casualties
The European season is too much for players to bear. We have too many tournaments and too many demands on our best players. If the World Cup is going to maintain its status, we have to find a way to take the load off players in a World Cup year.
It's a huge shame to see players of the calibre of Colombia's Radamel Falcao missing out on the World Cup. Franck Ribery is a serious doubt also. Something needs to be done.
3. Why Miami for England?
Some people might be wondering why England have ended up in Miami, but it's the perfect spot to prepare for the World Cup. The climate is humid and sticky, just as it will be in Manaus for the Italy game.
There's a very calm attitude towards celebrity here. I've seen Micky Rourke, Craig David and a number of other famous faces down here. People leave them alone and the England players are getting a bit of space.
It's also a good halfway house for England fans who won't make it to Brazil to get a glimpse of the team.
I was skeptical of England's preparations in South Africa at the 2010 World Cup—being kept away from the press and the fans in Rustenburg. It just wasn't the right way to go.
4. Lambert a proud Liverpool and England man
Rickie Lambert is a good technical player, a good link player and his body is still in very good shape. He's extremely reliable and will do very well at Liverpool.
Also, like his new team-mate Steven Gerrard, Lambert relishes being part of the England squad. He's proud, and his presence in the England dressing room can only help foster a mood of togetherness.
Should Lambert make a splash at Liverpool, it's not crazy to suggest he could still be in the England mix come Euro 2016.
5. David Villa is a massive coup for New York City FC and MLS
David Villa's move to New York doesn't seem to have attracted that much attention in America outside of New York, where the signing was promoted with a huge banner in Times Square.
You'd think a marquee transfer such as that would be a really big story across the nation, but Rickie Lambert's move to Liverpool was given as many column inches in the national papers I saw.
MLS is 20 years old now. It's time for the league to grow and signings such as Villa's are a sign that things are moving in the right direction. The media needs to get on board and help the process.
NYC FC are clearly a club with big ambition. I wonder if they'll be in the conversation when we eventually get a global super-league of some kind. It's surely inevitable.
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