World Cup - Paper Round: Positives to be found among England mediocrity

Daniel Sturridge, Raheem Sterling and Adam Lallana rose out of the mediocrity of England's latest performance to give Roy Hodgson reason for cheer.

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World Cup - Paper Round: Positives to be found among England mediocrity
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England striker Daniel Sturridge celebrates scoring the opening goal against Denmark at Wembley (AFP)

Henry Winter in the Daily Telegraph: Just when it seemed that England supporters, let alone the players, might need the professional services of the sports psychiatrist Dr Steve Peters, Daniel Sturridge gave them something positive to think about.

After initially being wasted out wide by Roy Hodgson, Sturridge eventually moved inside, showing his finishing abilities that have spiced his Liverpool season nine minutes from time. Sturridge’s 23rd goal in 28 appearances for club and country this season ended England’s barren run of 264 minutes. However deserved, England’s winner still masked many flaws.

This was a largely frustrating friendly performance from England, barring a handful of encouraging signs, including a display of such vibrancy from Raheem Sterling that the Liverpool youngster has to go to the World Cup.

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Martin Lipton in the Daily Mirror: A win, at the death. A little relief.

Evidence that Daniel Sturridge can bring his goalscoring form onto the England stage, that Raheem Sterling is a live contender and that Adam Lallana, surely, will be living his dream in Brazil.

But on a night in which too many of Roy Hodgson's men seemed to be trying to play themselves off the flight to Rio, new England shrink Steve Peters will have witnessed the size of the task he faces.

This was supposed to be the launchpad for the World Cup, a chance to try out a fresh shape, fresh players, the prize of a place in Hodgson's 23 a huge one. Instead, a subdued Wembley witnessed a major lift-off malfunction, salvaged by Sturridge's late header.

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Martin Samuel in the Daily Mail: There are four-and- a-half hours to go until kick-off in Manaus, so let’s cut to the chase. Adam Lallana changed the game.

Wingers changed the game. Pace changed the game. Skill changed the game. The rest is just chatter.

Unnecessary chatter, too, given the circumstances. If we work on the basis that England are unlikely to win the World Cup, then the best that can be hoped for is that they give it a right old go. And that does not mean hoping to bore Italy into submission up the Amazon.

It means meeting them with a bit of verve and aspiring to a memorable performance, one that perhaps inspires a serious assault on the European Championship in 2016, when several members of this squad will be coming of age.

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[Who is going to Brazil? How the ‘possibles’ fared against Denmark]

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Sam Wallace in The Independent: There are 98 days left until the World Cup finals and one wonders what will be ready first: Brazil's stadiums and infrastructure or Roy Hodgson's first XI.

In Lallana, Sterling and Shaw, Hodgson has three players who did not feature for a single minute between them in qualification for the tournament. Each of them posing a question to the England manager. Dare he take them? Dare he not take them? Certainly there were moments in the first half when Wembley fell into a familiar lull and England did little more than pass the ball in front of the massed ranks of Danes when something, anything, would have been preferable.

On the basis of their performances, one would not hesitate to select Lallana and Sterling for Brazil. As for Shaw, his head-to-head with Ashley Cole remains a difficult one to call. The 18-year-old did not look out of place in senior international football but then neither in the first half did the 107-cap veteran Cole in spite of the sporadic first team football he is being granted by Mourinho.

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Oliver Kay in The Times: At least there was a benign expression on Morten Olsen’s face when the Denmark coach left his post-match press conference with what looks, on paper, like a brutal put-down. “Good luck in the World Cup,” he said. “You need it.”

It should be taken in the spirit it was intended, but it should also be taken with a degree of seriousness. A well-earned England victory had several uplifting elements — notably the contributions of Daniel Sturridge, who scored the only goal, Raheem Sterling and perhaps above all Adam Lallana — but, as the names of those inexperienced players suggest, this team is undoubtedly a work in progress, still looking for the way forward for the World Cup finals and beyond.

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[Luke Shaw is the future – but Ashley Cole's history cannot be ignored]

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John Dillon in the Daily Express: The first lesson in sports psychiatry for England and their world-weary fans here last night was that patience is a virtue. Still. Yet again.

No change there, then. As if 48 years of waiting to win something hadn’t drilled that particularly well-worn piece of home-spun wisdom deep into everyone’s minds already.

Roy Hodgson’s team occasionally looked like they might work up something meaningful before half-time against a Danish team which isn’t going to the World Cup.

Well, they sort of did anyway. For much of the time, they didn’t though. Ho hum. Do you know what they call that? It is known as an international friendly. They keep happening and everybody keeps on expecting something different. It rarely does.

If Dr Steve Peters, the self-belief specialist being drafted in by Hodgson for the trip to Brazil had been involved on this occasion, his analysis might have been; step it up a bit, eh lads? Its hardly rocket science, is it? Hodgson keeps on talking about transferring the pace and the tempo of the Premier League to the international stage.

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Jeremy Cross in the Daily Star: It looks like Dr Steve Peters will have a roster of new patients to treat between now and the World Cup in Brazil.

There is a lot of work for England to do before the tournament starts in June, but the busiest man of all might well be the newest addition to the squad.

With the exception of Raheem Sterling, debutant Luke Shaw, substitute Danny Welbeck and Daniel Sturridge, there could well be a long queue of stars knocking on his door between now and the summer.

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