Daniel Sturridge
Sturridge led England to a stuttering win.

Daniel Sturridge's 82<sup>nd minute goal was enough for England to secure victory in an uncertain victory over Denmark at Wembley Stadium in the final game before Roy Hodgson selects his squad for the 2014 World Cup.

Sturridge settled a dreary friendly late on after planting substitute Adam Lallana's cross beyond Kasper Schmeichel to break a sequence of two successive home wins.

Despite the match representing the final chance to impress before the confirmation of the 30-man preliminary squad on 13 May, England produced a largely indifferent display to leave Hodgson with more questions than answers.

Peter Ankersen struck his own post in the first half before substitute Danny Welbeck and Sturridge were denied by Schmeichel after the break.

The plucky Danes, ranked 20<sup>th in the Fifa world rankings, looked to have secured a credible draw without possessing a genuine attacking threat before Sturridge popped up eight minutes from time, a goal unlikely to fully mask a performance which reaffirms England's status as major outsiders ahead of the summer.

In the final opportunity to secure a ticket on the plane to Brazil, Ashley Cole was handed a much-needed opportunity at full back while Glen Johnson won his 50<sup>th cap in the absence of the withdrawn Kyle Walker.

Jordan Henderson, Raheem Sterling, Sturridge and captain Steven Gerrard completed the quintet of Liverpool players who faced a Denmark side led by Reds defender Daniel Agger in a team which boasted four other players from English football including Arsenal forward Nicklas Bendtner.

Amid jostling for position ahead of the summer finals, Hodgson was looking to prevent becoming the first England manager to lose three home games in succession following November's losses to Chile and Germany.

But despite selecting an attack minded team England were unable to dictate and almost suffered an early injury scare after Jack Wilshere was left sprawling after being caught by Agger, but despite a stretcher being called the Arsenal man soldiered on.

When the chances did come, namely to Wayne Rooney, the Manchester United forward's radar was badly askew as first a free-kick ballooned over the bar before he rounded Schmeichel only to drag his effort badly wide.

Having named four of a Liverpool front six who were the top scorers in the Premier League, Hodgson had hoped to recapture the same verve and attacking expertise which had defined Brendan Rodgers' side.

But instead, ponderous passing in midfield coupled with a lack of telepathy in attack allowed Denmark to keep the hosts at arms length and force a rare effort of their own, as Jakob Poulsen was denied by Chris Smalling's block, with Bendtner in close attendance.

The dying embers of the first half did almost produce an England lead, as Peter Ankersen deflected Cole's cross onto his own post and Schemichel smothered Sturridge's close range effort after Gary Cahill's deflected header.

Luke Shaw replaced Cole to earn his England debut and while Welbeck and Lallana shortly followed the visitors grew into the contest and Bendtner forced Joe Hart into a smart stop before the hour.

Bendtner was replaced by Morten Rasmussen as one of three changes made by Morten Olsen and the FC Midtjylland forward almost opened the scoring but Hart was out quickly after Smalling's error.

The sporadic-nature of England's opportunities was becoming a growing concern and though Welbeck twice forced Schmeichel into a decent low saves Denmark were becoming increasingly assured.

But the deadlock was finally broken with eight minutes remaining as Sturridge headed home from Lallana's centre to secure an albeit stuttering victory which is unlikely to strike the fear of life into World Cup group opponents Costa Rica, Italy and Uruguay.