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Former national caretaker boss Peter Taylor believes England can kick off their 2014 Brazil World Cup campaign with a win over Italy

By Luke Cawdell

Gillingham manager Peter Taylor Picture Barry Goodwin

Gillingham manager Peter Taylor Picture: Barry Goodwin

Peter Taylor believes host nation Brazil will be the team to beat during the World Cup.

Gillingham boss Taylor has managed England at under-20 and under-21 level and also took charge of the senior team on a caretaker basis for a game against Italy in 2000.

And while he’s backing the Brazilians to claim a sixth World Cup win he believes the England team are capable of making waves themselves in the tournament.

Who will get their hands on the World Cup this summer Picture Matt Ashton EMPICS

Who will get their hands on the World Cup this summer? Picture: Matt Ashton / EMPICS

Taylor said: “You need a lot of luck to win a football match and even more luck to win a tournament and so anything could happen but you cannot rule out the South American teams.

“With the atmosphere and passion you can’t rule out Brazil. They are at home, things will go for them, the crowd will help them score a couple of goals and I personally would back Brazil. They have more pressure but a fantastic chance.

“The build-up this time around for England is better than usual, without the expectations and they look very relaxed, they are not expected to go and win it.

“For me, they can go and win their first match against Italy. They are definitely good enough to do that. I think if they win that there is a fair chance you are going to go to the next stage.

Manager Roy Hodgson is aiming to lead England to World Cup glory in Brazil. Picture Barry Watts

Manager Roy Hodgson is aiming to lead England to World Cup glory in Brazil. Picture: Barry Watts

“Your best players could play fantastically and score an unbelievable goal to win a match and then you are all of a sudden getting towards the end of the tournament. Anything can happen and confidence is important. If they are confident they have a good chance.

“I think we can beat Italy and then get some momentum. Momentum is important in any tournament and in the last few we have entered we have gone without our best players and we haven’t done well in our first game, so we have been a little bit flat.

“What I like about the England squad at the moment is that they all look comfortable and very happy playing for Roy Hodgson.

“We are very fortunate to have Roy. He is a very experienced man and very good at what he does. He is not just the manager he is the coach as well. Knowing the FA as I do, the preparation will be first class and we will be going there as strong as we can be.”

Will it be another summer of disappointment for England fans

Will it be another summer of disappointment for England fans?

Last summer Taylor was manager of the England under-20 side at the World Cup in Turkey.

England lost all three group games but he’s hoping that one of the players in his squad last year, will impress this time around.

Everton’s Ross Barkley is one player Taylor will be keeping a close eye on.

“I am looking forward to seeing him in a big tournament for England because the boy is capable and he has got confidence in himself,” said the former Leicester City manager.

“The occasion will not worry him. I am a bit biased and I like to see the young players play and I am looking forward to seeing Ross Barkley play for England in a big game in Brazil.

“He is a good lad and he has the chance to be Gascoigne, without a doubt.”

Taylor’s main concern this summer is of a less experienced defence.

Looking at the key men for England, he said: “Steven Gerrard is massive for England and I would say Phil Jagielka and Gary Cahill are massive, along with Joe Hart.

“If we can get a few clean sheets I think we can win matches because looking at our front four, Daniel Sturridge is on fire, Wayne Rooney will be fine and we have some goals in the team.

England striker Wayne Rooney celebrates scoring against Ecuador Picture Mike Egerton PA images

England striker Wayne Rooney celebrates scoring against Ecuador Picture: Mike Egerton / PA images

“If we can just be solid and not give goals away, that’s the area for me and we could do with a John Terry or Rio Ferdinand. We have two less experienced defenders there and I think they are vital for us.”

England remain outsiders to repeat their heroics of 1966 but Taylor hasn’t forgotten that day, when England triumphed against the Germans.

He said: “I remember watching it on a black and white television in my parents’ lounge – it was the smallest lounge you will ever see.

“I remember every second of it. Fantastic, absolutely brilliant and even now when I watch it, it gets me - what a feeling.

Former Chatham schoolboy Chris Smalling is in the England World Cup squad Picture Mike Egerton PA Images

Former Chatham schoolboy Chris Smalling is in the England World Cup squad Picture: Mike Egerton / PA Images

“I never thought that would be the last time I would see us win it but hopefully I will see that again.

“I was about 13 at the time and I was football crazy. I went out afterwards with a ball to my mate's house and said, 'come on, let’s have a game, England have just won the World Cup'.

“When I was 17 and I was playing for Canvey Island I met Martin Peters and Geoff Hurst and I still have the picture at home.”

How far do you think England will go in Brazil?

England open their challenge this year against Italy in Manaus, with an 11pm kick-off on Saturday night.

It was against Italy that Taylor took charge of England’s senior side for his one and only game, following Kevin Keegan’s resignation. He was the one who handed David Beckham the captaincy before Sven-Goran Eriksson took over.

“We should have had about three penalties and we should have beaten them,” said Taylor, reflecting on the 1-0 defeat in Turin.

“If we can have the possession we had against them, like we did in that game, then we can beat them. I am less fearful of Italy and think we are better than them.”

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