Roy Hodgson compares Ruben Loftus-Cheek to Michael Ballack and believes youngster can shine at World Cup

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Ruben Loftus-Cheek is getting his chance at the World Cup.

Former England manager Roy Hodgson believes Ruben Loftus-Cheek has “more strings to his bow” than Michael Ballack and tipped the Chelsea youngster to take his World Cup chance.

Loftus-Cheek is seemingly poised to start England’s penultimate Group G game against Panama on Sunday as a replacement for Dele Alli, who is a fitness concern due to a minor thigh strain.

The 22-year-old has shown glimpses of star quality in his five international appearances to date and Hodgson is confident he will not be daunted on the world stage.

“I do think he’s ready, yes, definitely, 100 per cent,” the Crystal Palace boss told the Daily Mail.

Hodgson saw Loftus-Cheek at close quarters last season, with the highly-rated midfielder spending the entire campaign on loan at Palace.

And though he has been likened to former Chelsea and Germany great Ballack in the past, Hodgson thinks a more accurate comparison would be another England midfielder in Jack Wilshere.

“I’d say he goes by people more than Ballack did. I think he’s got Ballack’s power and his pace and his strength – he’s definitely got that,” Hodgson added.

“But he’s maybe got more strings to his bow than even Ballack had. That’s a bold thing to say, I know, but he’s so good at going past people. He’s got that deceptive turn of pace.

“In that way he’s a bit like Jack Wilshere really. That ability to receive a ball in tight situations and then come out very quickly on the other side and open a game up.

“That’s a skill because passing players can’t do that. Passing players have to pass it and then get it back again. Ruben can twist and turn his way out of tight situations and, as I say, open a game up. And then he’s very powerful going forward.

“I think he can add more goals to his game. I’m sure he will as time goes on.”

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Daily Digest: World Cup title holders Germany face must-win against Sweden

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Good morning, Jay Asser here giving you a bitesize look at what’s going on today in the world of sport.

TOP STORY 

germany sweden

All eyes at the World Cup are on Germany today as the title holders face Sweden in a crucial meeting for Die Mannschaft.

After falling to Mexico in their opener, Germany are facing practically a must-win situation already in the group stages. Sweden won’t be an easy target, however, after they took down South Korea in their first game to look like a formidable side.

Aditya Devavrat looks at what the Germans need to do to avoid complacency, while Stuart Appleby examines talking points and key match-ups ahead of the pivotal clash.

WORLD CUP

If you missed yesterday’s contests, Xherdan Shaqiri capped off an impressive comeback by Switzerland over Serbia. Matt Jones picked out the main talking points from the thrilling result.

Nigeria, meanwhile, used a tactical switch to get the better of Iceland in a 2-0 victory. Read how their 3-5-2 lineup caused problems and other takeaways from the encounter.

Philippe Coutinho was the hero for Brazil as he scored in injury time to get the nation off the mark with their first win at the tournament. Check out an in-depth look at Coutinho’s match-winning performance.

CRICKET

Things have gone from bad to worse for Sri Lanka, with Dinesh Chandimal suspended for the third and final Test against West Indies, while Rangana Hertah has split the webbing on his right hand. That means Suranga Lakmal will be the ninth player to lead Sri Lanka across formats since 2013.

For England, a new face will be at the helm of their upcoming T20 campaign against Australia and India, with assistant Paul Farbrace standing in temporarily for head coach Trevor Bayliss.

Ashish Peter takes a look at Australia’s ODI woes after the nation hit a new low with their battering at the hands of England.

FEATURE OF THE DAY

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South Korea will have their work cut out to overcome Mexico today. Matt Monaghan examines talking points from the match-up, including the importance of Son Heung-min to South Korea’s attack.

SOCIAL MEDIA ROUND-UP

WHAT’S ON TODAY

WORLD CUP: Belgium v Tunisia, 16:00

South Korea v Mexico, 19:00

Germany v Sweden, 22:00

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Jamie Vardy not concerned about England leaked team picture ahead of Panama clash

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Together as a team: Jamie Vardy

Jamie Vardy insists England are in it together at the World Cup and will not allow their harmony to be disrupted by a glimpse of Steve Holland’s notes.

Gareth Southgate’s assistant was pictured at training on Thursday clutching a piece of paper with players listed in formation and in what could be interpreted as a pecking order for each position.

Holland apologised to the squad for allowing the snap to be taken, while Southgate and defender Kyle Walker both used media appearances to suggest reporters avoid leaking potentially helpful information to rivals.

Vardy, whose name was inked in underneath that of Marcus Rashford in the leaked image, rejected the idea it represented a tip-off for Sunday’s opponents Panama.

“All that is saying is telling our next opponents we’ve got 23 players in the squad and letting them know their names again,” he said.

“We find out the team on the morning of the game or the night before and until the gaffer names the team that’s the way it is.

“What the gaffer has said is everyone in the 23-man squad is going to be needed at some point, so we’ve just got to stay focused and put the effort in.

“The attitude and atmosphere is vital, you want to go the extra yard for your team-mates and the performance the other night showed that.”

Vardy was an unused substitute in the 2-1 win over Tunisia and faces one of the toughest battles for game time given he is effectively challenging for the same position as captain Harry Kane.

The Tottenham striker scored both goals in Volgograd and has 10 in 10 games during Southgate’s reign.

Asked if his consistency in front of goal was difficult to deal with in his role as deputy, Vardy said: “He’s not annoying at all!

“At the end of the day we’re all here for the same reason. We just want to win as many games as possible and he just popped up with two goals that got us all three points.

“You’ve just got to keep going, make sure you’re putting the effort in on the training field, getting in the manager’s plans and hopefully if you get the chance make sure you stay there.

“I just do exactly what I do every day during the season: give as good as I can, give 110 per cent and if I get the opportunity that’s what I’ll be doing again.”

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