International friendly: Norway v England Preview
Andy Carroll looms as the likely lead striker for England as they begin their Euro 2012 preparations with a friendly against Norway.
The big Liverpool striker, who has just one international goal from three matches and who was heavily criticised after his 35-million-pound move from Newcastle, could start against Norway because new England manager Roy Hodgson has only two other strikers to choose from.
Wayne Rooney, who will miss the first two group games at Euro 2012, will be rested against Norway due to a slight injury.
Hodgson’s only other forward options are Rooney’s Manchester United team-mate Danny Welbeck and Tottenham’s Jermain Defoe.
If Hodgson goes with a central striker flanked by two other attackers, Carroll is the only one of the trio perfectly suited to such a role.
If the new manager decides on two up front, Carroll would still be unlucky to miss out due to his ability to hold the ball up and bring other players into the game.
Saturday’s match in Oslo will be Hodgson’s first chance to show what he can do with England.
Hodgson was appointed as England’s manager at the start of May and faces a race against time to get his new team ready for the European Championships in Poland and Ukraine, which start on June 8.
Many will be keen to see how Hodgson decides to use Steven Gerrard after naming the 31-year-old as his captain.
Gerrard has played many different roles in his England career but the decision to give him the captain’s armband may signal that Hodgson will play him in an attacking midfield role, which is arguably the Liverpool skipper’s best position.
After Saturday’s game, England will play at home versus Belgium before heading to their base for the tournament in the Polish city of Krakow.
Norway could provide England with a similar hit-out to what they can expect from Euro 2012 group opponents Sweden.
Egil Olsen’s side just missed out on Euro 2012, finishing third behind Denmark and Portugal in their qualifying group.
England’s players will be well aware of Morten Gamst Pedersen, John Arne Riise and Brede Hangeland, who all play in the Premier League, but must also be wary of Hannover striker Mohammed Abdellaoue.