Jungle fever

Stuart Pearce says the 'stifling' humidity of South America is a major World Cup test for England but thinks a tough draw could also be beneficial for Roy Hodgson's men next summer...

Stuart Pearce believes England have a tough group when you consider the humidity

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Having been a member of the England staff who travelled to Colombia for the 2011 Under-20 World Cup, Stuart Pearce is well aware of the tests posed by international competitions in South America.

The former Three Lions international, senior team caretaker boss and U21s manager assisted Brian Eastick two years ago in taking an U20 squad to the continent, where they encountered 'stifling' humidity in games in Medellin, Cartagena and Armenia.

England's U20s, who featured goalkeeper Jack Butland as their standout player, went out in a 1-0 last-16 defeat by Nigeria having only qualified for the knockout stages as one of the best third-placed teams in the groups - where they had drawn all of their games 0-0 against North Korea, Argentina and Mexico.

"I think this [2014] group sharpens this focus. From today, they know exactly what they are going in to and I think that is a good thing for us"

Stuart Pearce

Quotes of the week

And Pearce knows Roy Hodgson's senior team will be facing similar conditions next summer in the World Cup finals in Brazil when they take on Costa Rica, Uruguay and an opening Group D game against Italy, which will be played in the jungle of the Amazonian city of Manaus - where humidity can reach 99 per cent.

"It is a tough group," Pearce told Sky Sports of England, who moved from 25/1 to 33/1 with Ladbrokes after a difficult draw. "The venues in which the groups are played and the humidity in which they are going to be played, it is really tough.

"I helped take the Under 20s to Colombia and we played in similar humidity and it was stifling. But it was a great experience and a great pre-runner probably to what the senior team are going to have next summer.

"But England are in a group that manages expectations by the pure nature of it. I think everybody in the country realises we are in for a tough baptism at the World Cup.

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"But I cannot see Costa Rica getting out of the group so that puts us, Uruguay and Italy as two out of three teams. So we have got a 66.6 per cent chance of getting out of the group and that is a positive way of looking at it."

Pearce, who was a member of Fabio Capello's England coaching staff at the 2010 World Cup, thinks being drawn against 2006 World Cup winners Italy, 2011 Copa America champions Uruguay and Costa Rica can also help England's players.

The former left-back believes complacency may have damaged the squad in the South Africa finals of almost four years ago, when they struggled to get through a group including the USA, Algeria and Slovenia.

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"The nature of the group we were in with Algeria and the USA, everyone thought it was shoo-in for us to get out of the group," said Pearce. "I think some of the players did as well. All of a sudden, you dip five per cent and that can be really dangerous, especially for English teams.

"I think this [2014] group sharpens this focus. From today, they know exactly what they are going in to and I think that is a good thing for us."

Stuart Pearce is backing England to win the World Cup at 33/1 with Ladbrokes

Will England qualify from World Cup Group D?

  • Yes - as group winners
  • Yes - as group runners-up
  • No - it's an early plane home