It’s Okay: England cool with under-fire Manaus pitch

Roy Hodgson and Steven Gerrard are happy with the much-criticised Manaus pitch ahead of their World Cup opener against Italy on Saturday.

Players’ union FIFPro lambasted the Amazonia Arena pitch after pictures emerged earlier this week in which it looked parched and was strafed by brown lines, but Hodgson said he had no worries about it.

“I’ve just been on it. We think it’s fine. It’s very flat. I don’t see any reason for any concern,” he told a pre-match press conference on Friday.

“We’ll be happy to play on that pitch. It’ll play well and will suit both teams. The grass is short, the pitch is flat, and we should be able to play good football on it.”

Gerrard concurred, adding: “It’s totally fine. The grass is the perfect length. The sun’s off the pitch at 4:30 (local time; 2030 GMT) and we don’t kick off until 6:00. It’ll be zippy, which is perfect.”

The England squad trained on the pitch shortly afterwards.

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