Rodwell to benefit from Hodgson’s dwindling midfield options

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Jack Rodwell’s frustrating season looks like ending in a welcome but unexpected high as his chances of representing his country over their next two matches were given a further boost following Tom Cleverley’s withdrawal from the squad.

Cleverley had been struggling with a calf injury, prompting Hodgson to bring City rival and midfield rival Rodwell into the squad. With the United midfielder now confirmed out, along with the absence of captain Steven Gerrard, Arsenal’s Jack Wilshere and Hodgson’s reluctance to give Gareth Barry any more international caps, Rodwell can be expected to play a significant role in England’s forthcoming games.

On Wednesday, the Republic of Ireland (6/1 to win) make their first trip to Wembley since a 1991 European qualifier, with England overwhelming 4/9 favourites to record a first victory over the Irish since Gary Lineker scored in the winner at Wembley in 1985.

Roy Hodgson’s men then follow that with a trip to Brazil on Sunday, all as part of the Football Association’s 150th anniversary celebrations.

But coming after a long season that followed the European Championships last summer, Hodgson will be expected to rotate his squad for the two games. It means that fringe players like Phil Jones, Gary Cahill, Daniel Sturridge and Rodwell will all be confident of playing some part.

In particular Rodwell will be keen to make his mark, following a frustrating first season as a Manchester City player following his £12m move from Everton last summer. Rodwell made only six starts, with injuries and a struggle for form having blighted his time at the Etihad during an often tumultuous year that ended with the sacking of manager Roberto Mancini.

Rodwell signalled his intent to prove the doubters wrong with two well-taken goals against Norwich on the last day of the season, and while other players may be flagging given the time of season, Rodwell will feel as though he is only just getting in to gear.

It makes him an enticing 14/1 shout to open the scoring on Wednesday should he get the nod in midfield. Should he start on the bench, the wincast option of 11/2 for Rodwell to score and England to win is the best alternative.

As for other first scorers, Frank Lampard is 6/1 while Wayne Rooney is 7/2 to put speculation of a potential summer transfer to one side and net first.

Meanwhile, Giovanni Trapattoni’s men have been given a veritable boost with the news that record scorer Robbie Keane will be permitted to take part, after initial doubts over his eligibility.

Because the friendly game falls outside of the international window, his club LA Galaxy were under no obligation to allow him to represent his country. Nevertheless, they have given Keane permission to play at Wembley, and his renowned threat in front of goal, despite his advancing years, make him a decent opposition pick at 9/1.

All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.

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