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Johnson Reacts To England's World Cup Defeat Against Italy

16 June 2014

Latics manager Lee Johnson believes England still have what it takes to get out of Group D, despite losing their opening game of the tournament to Italy on Saturday.

Mario Balotelli headed the winning goal for the Azzurri five minutes into the second half after Daniel Sturridge had earlier cancelled out Claudio Marchisio's opener. 

Johnson, who celebrated his 33rd birthday last week, spoke of the positives in the England performance.

He said: "I thought England played okay and broke well. The energy of the young boys who were making their World Cup debuts was excellent. I think that it was a decent performance and one we can build on.

"I thought Sterling was class but I was disappointed he got cramp. Four or five other players got cramp which I can't understand why, considering none of the Italians did. Roy set the team up well and going forward their are some positive signs."

Despite the impressive English display, Johnson admitted that Italy shaded the midfield battle.

"I thought we got bossed in midfield and if you are getting bossed in the midfield at the World Cup then you are in big trouble. I thought Pirlo was quality and De Rossi was good. 

"I felt that we couldn't get a foothold in the game properly. I watched the game without commentary and it was interesting because sometimes you get sucked into what they say so I could make my own judgement," continued the gaffer.

"If you go all in against any team in the World Cup then they will pick you off. You need a controlled build up play in the midfield and then you need a spark in and around the box. England did have that for around 65 minutes and we need to take that into the next game."

With the big debate around the country being the inclusion of Wayne Rooney, the 33-year-old admits it is a decision that he would not like to make.

"I have to make enough choices so I'll leave that one to Roy. People can go over the top a bit because I thought he worked hard when he was asked to play a different role," said Johnson.

"Roy was proved right to play Rooney as he put in a fantastic ball for the goal for Sturridge. I don't think he should necessarily be dropped because I think they should incorporate all the best players into the side. I think in the next game we've got a better chance in dominating the middle of the park and then Rooney can get the ball higher up the pitch."

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