England entertain the Republic of Ireland at Wembley on Wednesday night hampered by a list of absentees which includes Liverpool’s Steven Gerrard and Andy Carroll, Arsenal’s Jack Wilshere, Manchester United’s Tom Cleverley and Tottenham’s Kyle Walker.
But even if Three Lions boss Roy Hodgson has to juggle his resources, I can see the home side coming out on top in tonight’s encounter with the Boys in Green to provide a boost in morale ahead of their trip to Brazil at the weekend.
The main reason for this assertion is that England can still call on a wealth of attacking options while Ireland have scored just two goals against teams in Fifa’s top 50 in their last seven attempts.
England are certainly worthy favourites having racked up a record of five wins, three draws and only one defeat since last summer’s European Championships, with Italy and Brazil two of the defeated nations.
You can back them to overcome Ireland under the Wembley arch at odds of 21/50.
But given the nature of the modern international friendly, what with their tendency to become a farcical contest of musical sub benches, I’m not too taken by such short odds – even if the hosts are the superior side.
Instead, I’ll be looking to the anytime goalscorer market and a man who’s bang in form.
With Carroll out and Jermaine Defoe’s chances at Spurs limited towards the end of the season, Hodgson looks set to hand Daniel Sturridge his first start in an England shirt.
The Liverpool striker was in red-hot form towards the end of the domestic season, netting 11 times in 16 appearances. He also struck as a substitute in England’s 8-0 win over San Marino in March.
With that in mind, 6/5 looks like a great price for him to score at any time this evening.
With all that said, the visitors should not be underestimated as the experienced Giovanni Trapattoni has guided his team to four wins, three draws and two defeats since their disappointing Euro 2012 campaign.
Ireland will also have an in-form striker available for selection, with Robbie Keane coming into the fixture on the back of a hat-trick for LA Galaxy against Seattle Sounders in the MLS.
The former Tottenham and Liverpool striker can be found at 9/1 to score the first goal at Wembley and 5/2 to score at any time, while an Ireland win is available at 27/4 and the draw at 16/5.
With the game likely to be close, I can see the Three Lions coming out on top by a single goal in a 2-1 win, as they did against Brazil in their most recent match at Wembley.
If you agree, then you can place the free £20 bet you get for signing up on a 2-1 England victory at odds of 27/4 which might just bring you a summer bounty of £155.
But for me, the best bet remains a stab on an anytime goal for the in-form Sturridge.
Follow David on Twitter @whichdave