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England squad numbers hints at a start for Chelsea star

| 23.05.2014

There was a time, one far simpler and without endless analysis, when squad numbers at a major tournament had little bearing on who actually started a match.

In 1982, the Argentine squad cared so little about their meaning that they dished out the digits alphabetically. That meant Tottenham midfielder Ossie Ardiles took the field with number one across his back, a figure usually reserved for the starting goalkeeper.

In more modern times, Thierry Henry is perhaps the most high-profile player to regularly wear a number that fell outside of the regimented starting XI, despite being guaranteed a start.

For nations where the manager’s preferred first team isn’t so clear cut, though, the release of squad numbers – like those picked by Roy Hodgson for this summer’s World Cup – can give an insight into his thinking.

If Hodgson, who strikes as someone to enjoy his starting side wearing numbers one through 11 as the ultimate form of organisation, is to follow this regimented thinking then a prime betting opportunity lies at the index finger of Ladbrokes customers.

Among the players to be given one of the first 11 jerseys in Rio, two are odds-against to start England’s first group game in Brazil.

Frank Lampard is the longest-priced of the two and, at 5/1, is actually the industry-best price on him taking the field from the kickoff against the Azzurri.

But considering he’s been handed the number eight jersey means he may be far closer to landing a start than many give the ageing marauder credit for.

Danny Welbeck, given the traditional left-winger’s number 11, is the other player with a lengthy price to start, at 13/8.

The squad numbers seem to put paid to any chances of James Milner and Jordan Henderson, number 17 and 14 respectively, starting the Italy match and at matching odds of 5/6, should be avoided as far as any pre-match punting is concerned.

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

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Matt Wiggins

No idyllic sound comes close to leather on willow for Matt, whose previous experience includes stints with Spin Magazine and Surrey County Cricket Club. It's not just cricket that interests him though, with football, golf, tennis and any American sport not played on ice all high on his list of favourites.