From the Back Pages, November 21: England face possibility of being placed in ‘group of death’ against Brazil or Argentina and France

From the back pages
From the back pages

France’s dramatic play-off triumph, and the failures of Sweden, Romania and Iceland, means England face the possibility of being placed in a World Cup ‘group of death’ with Brazil or Argentina, France or African champions Nigeria and one of the sides in the Concacaf/Asia pot, which includes Mexico and the USA. (The Independent)

England have headaches in every area of the field as they try to assemble an effective side. By this stage, barely six months before the World Cup finals, we are usually fixated on the idea of which players will make the cut when it comes to England’s 23-man squad. Newspapers love that type of chat, with a graphic illustrating who is “on the plane”, “in the departure lounge”, “on standby” and “on the beach”, but on this occasion it feels like an unnecessary distraction. (The Times)

Steven Gerrard has offered a frank assessment of England’s World Cup chances, saying that the national team will not travel to Brazil as anything more than outsiders. The captain groped for positives after the Wembley defeats to Germany and Chile but he admitted that they had brought “realism and perspective”. (The Guardian)

Roy Hodgson has risked another club versus country row over Jack Wilshere’s fitness. Arsenal midfielder Wilshere suffered an ankle injury during the friendly with Germany which will need to be assessed before Saturday’s top of the table clash with Southampton. (The Mirror)

Broad is booed by bitter home fans but Aussie public enemy No 1 takes first wicket as Rogers falls. (Daily Mail)

The International Cricket Council has admitted that the umpires will be unfamiliar with the new decision review system (DRS) being used during this Ashes series, sparking fears that there may be more of the controversy which dogged the last series in England. (The Telegraph)

ANDREW FLINTOFF is urging England to take a gamble on the player tipped to fill his boots as the country’s next great all-rounder – Ben Stokes. (The Express)