Football

Cahill and Jagielka are England's lucky charms

It bodes well for England that Cahill and Jagielka are undefeated in 12 matches they have played together

England have not lost on the 12 occasions Phil Jagielka and Gary Cahill have played together - a statistic that highlights the fine relationship the latter believes they have formed ahead of the World Cup.

The Three Lions head to Brazil this summer with their least experienced centre-back pairing for many years.

However, while Jagielka and Cahill have only 48 caps between them, the defensive duo have not lost a match in which they have played together for England.

Of the six competitive matches, England won five and conceded just once - a miserly defensive record they will need to extend if they are progress from a tough-looking Group D.

"I think we've got a good understanding, which comes from playing a few games together now, as it always does," Cahill said after last Friday's 3-0 defeat of Peru.

"You don't all of sudden hit it off straightaway. I feel we hit it off quite quickly and there is definitely an understanding in each other's game.

"There's another clean sheet against Peru so we're pleased with how it is going. We carry on and keep working - not just on the pairing of me and Jags but also the other defenders and getting a good reaction with them all."

The position of Cahill and Jagielka as England's undisputed centre-back pairing was highlighted by their starring roles in last Friday's friendly win, which saw both defenders net in the second half.

There had been suggestions recently that John Terry should be coaxed out of international retirement to play alongside Chelsea teammate Cahill, but the 28-year-old is just as happy to play alongside Jagielka, 31.

"It is hard to compare," he said. "I've played many, many games with John, so we know each other's game inside out.

"Before the qualifying campaign it was relatively new with Jags, and since then we've got a good understanding, a good relationship.

"We've got clean sheets under our belt and at the minute it is going well.

"I think Jags is experienced as well. You look at his age, what he has done in his career, his caps for his country. He has been around a lot in the Premier League - he is an experienced player."

Cahill and Jagielka were part of the England team that touched down in the sweltering heat of Miami yesterday morning to begin the next phase of their World Cup preparations.

England manager Roy Hodgson said the nine-hour journey over the Atlantic Ocean was "very good" when asked by the assembled media at the hotel.

Around a dozen reporters and cameramen had gathered to greet the 23-strong squad as they stepped off their coach.

The first man into the hotel was goalkeeping coach Dave Watson.

He was followed soon after by Wayne Rooney, Steven Gerrard and Leighton Baines, who was carrying his guitar on his back.

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The squad had a brief walk around their hotel before retiring for the night following a long day of travelling.

The 23-man party, along with standby players John Stones and John Flanagan, will begin their preparations for Thursday morning's (Singapore time) friendly against Ecuador with a training session at Barry University today.

Temperatures will exceed 30 deg C and humidity levels will be high in Miami, where England will face Honduras three days after the Ecuador game.

The Three Lions will then fly to Brazil, where they begin their World Cup campaign on June 14 against Italy in Manaus.

Hodgson says he will field an experimental line-up against Ecuador in the first friendly in the Sun Life Stadium, which is the home of NFL side the Miami Dolphins.

"Our plan really on Wednesday is basically to start the people who didn't start on Friday (against Peru)," said Hodgson, meaning the likes of Raheem Sterling, Luke Shaw and Rickie Lambert are likely to face Ecuador.

Meanwhile, Hodgson has promised that his players will sing the national anthem loud and proud this summer.

"You very rarely play an international match against opponents and they haven't got their hands on their hearts and singing their anthem as loud as they can, and we've made a decision that that's what we're going to do too, because we are proud, we are happy to be wearing that England shirt," the England manager said.

Given that Hodgson's 23-man World Cup squad contain 12 players who were not part of Euro 2012, the England boss will issue a reminder to his party for Brazil that they must sing the song this summer.

"Perhaps we need to remind them as the squad have changed so much," the 66-year-old said. "I hope they will.

I think we're great until the second verse comes along because we don't really know that." - PA Sport.


England have always been respected but a World Cup is very different. Anything can happen. You have seven matches to win it. England... have a mix of experience and young players and we don't know how that will work.

- Former Brazil defender Cafu on England’s World Cup chances

Comedian gatecrashes Three Lions' send-off

LOOKING SHARP: The England team strike a pose before their trip to Miami.

England's departure for Miami was hit by a moment of farce on Sunday when comedian Simon Brodkin gatecrashed the travelling party as they arrived at Luton Airport.

Brodkin - best known for his performance as Lee Nelson in two BBC comedy series - was pictured attempting to mingle with England's players as they waited for their luggage to be removed from the coach which had delivered them to a private terminal.

Dressed in an identical suit to those worn by the England travelling party and brandishing a passport, Brodkin spent several moments in close proximity to the players before he appeared to be spotted first by captain Steven Gerrard, after which members of security and local police intervened.

Brodkin was spoken to by a police officer before leaving.

A BBC spokesman said the stunt was not for a BBC project. 
- PA Sport.

Buy TNP and redeem World Cup poster

Here's a special treat for football fans gearing up for the 2014 World Cup.

In partnership with electrical, IT and furniture retailer Courts, The New Paper has designed a special World Cup fixture poster.

The poster, in two sections, will be published in the centrespread of tomorrow's TNP and on Thursday.

It contains all the 64 World Cup fixtures in Singapore time.

You can also exchange the two sections of the poster for a giant glossy version.

To redeem the limited-edition glossy poster, you have to be among the first 100 people to show up at the Courts Tampines Megastore on Friday with both TNP sections.