England manager and singing coach Roy Hodgson has told a press conference that his side ‘can’t wait’ to get out onto the pitch and ‘sing their little hearts out’ before their opening World Cup match on Saturday.
‘We’re very excited about this young group,’ he said. ‘We’ve got some great talent coming through. We sang well in all of our qualifying matches, and there’s no-one in the tournament we fear will outsing us in a head-to-head national anthem, especially the ones with no words.’
England were heavily criticised four years ago after a disappointing performance in South Africa. ‘Fabio Capello got it all wrong,’ explained the BBC’s Gary Lineker. ‘The boys just weren’t enjoying their singing, and it showed before matches. He had them singing Italian operas in training when they wanted to be bashing out Glee’s Greatest Hits. Roy’s learned the lessons from then – I think we’ll see an enthusiastic rendition on Saturday, with maybe even a few dance moves thrown in too.’
Hodgson also told reporters he was confident that Danny Wellbeck will be fit to sing against Italy. ‘Danny had a bit of a scare midweek, suffering from a bit of a sore throat. But he’s been sucking lozenges for the last couple of days and he should be fine on Saturday.’
Some pundits have questioned Wayne Rooney’s place in the starting ensemble, pointing to the fact that he has failed to sing well at any of the major tournaments he’s been to before, but Hodgson defended his player. ‘Wayne’s been working really hard at his harmonies since the last Euros,’ he argued. ‘I think you might just be surprised by just how well his voice has come on. Plus I’ve bought him a triangle to ding during the song, just in case he forgets the words.’
Other accompaniment on the night is expected to come from Steven Gerrard on the maracas, Joe Hart on tambourine and Daniel Sturridge being brought on in the second half to give a blinding performance on marimba.