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Sterling starts for England against Italy

ESPN staff
June 14, 2014 « Ivanovic cruises into Edgbaston final | WILL TEST Rashid's burst takes Yorkshire top »
Excitement around England

Raheem Sterling will start for England behind striker Daniel Sturridge, while Wayne Rooney plays wide against Italy on Saturday, the team confirmed from Manaus.

Rooney is set to play on the right, as Roy Hodgson prefers a Liverpool partnership in the centre.

The 19-year-old Sterling missed England's final warm-up match after being dismissed for a wild tackle against Ecuador. He did not start any of England's warm-up matches for the World Cup.

Hodgson chose Sterling and Danny Welbeck over Adam Lallana, while Steven Gerrard and Jordan Henderson also start.

The back line of Glen Johnson, Tim Cahill, Phil Jagielka and Leighton Baines will protect Joe Hart in goal.

Meanwhile, Italy captain Gianluigi Buffon has confirmed that he has been ruled out with an ankle injury.

The two nations meet in Manaus on Saturday in the Group D clash, but the Azzurri will be without their first-choice goalkeeper after he picked up the knock in training.

Italy coach Cesare Prandelli confirmed on Friday that Buffon, a key member of the 2006 World Cup-winning side, had sustained the injury, but played it down as "nothing serious."

However, the Juventus player himself confirmed on Saturday via his official Twitter account that he will sit out the game against England.

"Good day to everyone..." Buffon wrote.

"Life is beautiful and I am still indebted to her... It won't be a missed game or another World Cup missed out to make me change my mind!!!

"Besides, there are many ways to be important, even if you're not a protagonist on the field... therefore... forza great Salvatore [Sirigu]... forza magical lads... FORZA ITALIA, my great love!!!"

Buffon's absence will be a big blow to an Italy side already without full-back Mattia de Sciglio through injury.

Italy's reserve goalkeepers are Sirigu of Paris Saint-Germain and Mattia Perin of Genoa, with Sirigu likely to get the nod on Saturday.

The PSG goalkeeper has won eight caps for his country, but played in just one competitive game -- a Euro 2012 qualifier against Estonia in 2010.

Sirigu, who started 37 out of 38 league games for the French champions last season, has missed several days of training recently due to bruised ribs.

England: Hart; Johnson, Cahill, Jagielka, Baines; Gerrard, Henderson; Rooney, Sterling, Welbeck; Sturridge

Italy: Sirigu, Chiellini, Darmian, Candreva, Marchisio, Balotelli, Barzagli, De Rossi, Paletta, Pirlo, Verratti

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