PNE’s Kevin feeling optimistic

Ross Barkley

Ross Barkley

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Preston North End striker Kevin Davies is optimistic about how far England can progress in the World Cup.

Davies, 37, who won his one England cap in a European Championship qualifier against Montenegro, thinks Roy Hodgson’s side are more than capable of qualifying from Group D.

The Three Lions start their Brazil 2014 campaign against Italy at the Arena da Amazonia in Manaus tonight (11pm).

They play Uruguay next Thursday in Sao Paulo and then move on to Belo Horizonte to play Costa Rica a week on Tuesday.

Davies is encouraged by the options which England have available higher up the pitch and thinks if used correctly, are key to progressing to the last 16.

Raheem Sterling, Daniel Sturridge, Wayne Rooney, Ross Barkley, Danny Welbeck and Adam Lallana are among those who can play in attacking roles.

“I don’t think England should play with any fear,” Davies told the Evening Post.

“When the group was drawn last year it did look a tough one, but they are capable of getting out of it.

“Uruguay and Italy are very good teams but Uruguay did struggle to qualify and Italy haven’t won since qualifying.

“You would think it is two out of three to qualify from England, Uruguay and Italy because Costa Rica will struggle.

“That said, Costa Rica do have some threats.

“We will see how it goes, it might end up being a bit of a nail-biter if it goes down to the Costa Rica game.

“Hopefully the manager will allow the players to have a good go, give them their freedom.

“With a back four and two midfielder sitters, there is the scope to allow the attacking players to play.

“There is versatility up front with Sturridge, Rooney and Sterling.

“You can switch players like that around during games without the team losing any of its shape.

“I’m a big fan of Ross Barkley, he reminds me very much of Wayne Rooney when he first came through.

“Roy Hodgson probably won’t start with Barkley but he is a great option to bring on in the hope of producing a little bit of magic.”

When it comes to lifting the World Cup, at this stage Davies is not looking beyond Argentina or Brazil.

“I’m torn between those two,” admitted the Lilywhites front man.

“Argentina I feel have the best squad and there is no reason why they can’t go all the way.

“A lot of pressure is on Brazil as the hosts and their record at home is superb.

“You cannot write-off Spain or Germany either, but I think this tournament is about the South Americans.

“I’m really excited about it, I’ve been doing the World Cup sticker books with my kids.”

Meanwhile, PNE’s ticket office will have longer opening hours in the run-up to next Saturday’s deadline for buying season tickets at launch price. It will be open 9am-7pm Monday to Friday, and 9am-5pm Saturday.