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