Football: England can shine without old heads at World Cup, says Arsenal icon Parlour

Arsenal legend Ray Parlour believes England should play for a draw in their opening World Cup group match against Italy on June 14. -- ST PHOTO: LIM YAOHUI FOR THE STRAITS TIMES
Arsenal legend Ray Parlour believes England should play for a draw in their opening World Cup group match against Italy on June 14. -- ST PHOTO: LIM YAOHUI FOR THE STRAITS TIMES

With the spotlight firmly on more illustrious rivals like Brazil and Germany, England are set up nicely to upset the odds at next month's football World Cup, according to a former Three Lions midfielder.

Arsenal legend Ray Parlour has backed England boss Roy Hodgson's controversial decision to plump for youngsters Ross Barkley, Luke Shaw and Raheem Sterling over the likes of stalwarts Ashley Cole, Michael Carrick and Jermain Defoe, who will not make the trip to Brazil.

"For once, nobody back home is expecting them to go very far - it's a perfect atmosphere for the young boys to show what they're capable of and justify Hodgson's choice to ditch the old guard," said Parlour, 41, who was capped 10 times at the international level.

The three-time English Premier League winner is in Singapore to play at the Singapore Cricket Club International Soccer Sixes at the Padang this weekend.

The former winger believes England should play for a draw in their opening World Cup group match against Italy on June 14. Dark horses Uruguay, led by star strikers Luis Suarez and Edinson Cavani, and Costa Rica are also in Group D.

Parlour said: "I've worked it out and if England can draw their first two games against Italy and Uruguay, they're in with a good shout to progress with a win over Costa Rica.

"It's the lottery of the knock-out round after that, and I'm not going to bet against a young and hungry England outfit there."