Roy alleviates tension

Roy Hodgson and Steven Gerrard have no worries about the state of the Arena Amazonia pitch where England open their World Cup campaign on Saturday.

There had been fears England's Group D game against Italy might be played on a sub-standard playing surface but manager Hodgson and skipper Gerrard inspected the Manaus pitch on Friday and declared it was fine.

Photographs of the field published earlier in the week were less than flattering but Hodgson said: "I have just gone on the pitch with Steven and it was fine.

"It is very flat. I don't see reason to have any concern about it at all. We are quite happy to play on that pitch and I think it will suit both teams.

"The grass is very short, it is very flat and it will be possible to play good football on it."

And Gerrard added: "I think with experience I've learned to wait until I walk on the pitch and judge it myself. It is quite easy to read things or go on another person's opinions and get the wrong impression and believe the wrong things.

"But I've just been on the pitch and it is totally fine. The grass is the perfect length and the sun is off the pitch at half-four and we don't kick-off until six o'clock.

"I am sure the water will stay on it and it will be quick and zippy. I think everyone is going to be in for a fantastic game."