The England national team will play at arguably the most atmospheric stadium in the country before returning to their rebuilt Wembley Stadium as they build up to the summer World Cup.
The FA have announced that a friendly between Uruguay and England will be played at Anfield on Wednesday March 1st as England prepare their players in advance of that tournament in Germany. The game, which will be televised by the BBC, will potentially include appearances by Steven Gerrard, Jamie Carragher and Peter Crouch. Steven Warnock has been included in squads by Sven-Goran Eriksson previously too. There’s also a possibility that Michael Owen will make another return to play at Anfield. If he’s over his broken foot by then, Michael will be based in the more familiar home dressing room for that game, the dressing room he’d no doubt like to be getting ready in for a lot more games next season.
There’s still what seems like daily updates on Wembley’s likelihood of being finished in time for the scheduled games this spring, every day seems to alternate between whether it will be ready or it won’t be ready in time. Assuming it is, England will play two friendlies at the new stadium, against Hungary on May 30th and Jamaica on June 3rd.
Peter Crouch will be hoping for more respect from the England fans when he next turns out for them after being booed on previous appearances. An increasing number of true football fans have seen Liverpool’s tall forward in action and have started to realise just how good he is. The ground for that Anfield fixture will be filled with a mixture of Reds and non-Reds, but Crouch should be able to expect a decent reception.
During the period of building work at Wembley, Anfield has been one of many grounds used to host England games as the national squad toured the country. Both of the matches played at Anfield saw success for England – they beat Finland 2-1 in the only competitive match, a world cup qualifier; they also beat Paraguay 4-0 in a friendly ahead of the 2002 World Cup.
Eriksson told the FA’s official website that these forthcoming friendlies will be important exercises ahead of the finals in the summer: “I’m delighted that we have been able to finalise these fixtures quickly and am very pleased with our opponents. These games will allow us to test ourselves against teams with very different styles of play, which is critical ahead of a World Cup.”
Harry Kewell’s Australia qualified for the World Cup finals at the expense of Uruguay in a play-off tie, a tie that ended in a Sydney penalty shoot-out. Eriksson said of them: “Uruguay are a very well-organised team who are very difficult to play against and came very close to qualifying for Germany. They will present a tough test and a similar challenge to our group opponents Paraguay.”