Roy Hodgson will hand Frank Lampard, Gary Cahill and Kyle Walker starting places in his side to face Italy on Wednesday, after being denied the trio through injury at the summer's European Championship, and the England manager hoping the "tough test" that awaits in Berne demonstrates there is strength in depth at his disposal for the World Cup qualifying campaign ahead.
The England manager has called up six uncapped players for the friendly against the Azzurri, who eliminated his team on penalties in a quarter-final at Euro 2012, and has chosen not to include Steven Gerrard, John Terry, Ashley Cole and Wayne Rooney. But, while Hodgson is confident his inexperienced players will not be overrun by what is likely to be a similarly experimental Italian side, he will hand those senior players he has included in the squad starts at the Wankdorf stadium.
"This represents an ideal opportunity to get back some of the guys who dropped out of the Euros with injury and also to look at some of the younger players I have in mind," said Hodgson, who liaised with Premier League club managers last week ahead of announcing his 22-man squad. "I don't want to weaken the team totally – we are not that well blessed to leave 12 or 13 out against Italy – but there is no fear on my part that we will get overrun. There are plenty of seniors and more than enough quality in the squad.
"I will probably start with the strongest side with the seniors, then younger ones will make cameo appearances. But they have a chance in training sessions to create a good impression. The test against Italy will be a good one. It's my view there is no point having easy matches in friendly fixtures. There is no point at all achieving easy victories against teams not in the same ball park as us. We need to be able to beat good teams because, when push comes to shove, that's what we will have to do in tournaments."
Hodgson confirmed that Michael Carrick, who returns to the squad after a two-year absence, would have been included for Euro 2012 but for a misunderstanding with the player's agent, David Geiss. "Michael would have gone had he made himself available – that was the message from his agent," Hodgson said. "I also think Gary Neville might have had a conversation with him, too, but my information was to the effect: 'Don't think about Michael Carrick because he doesn't want to play.' I have had a good chat with Michael about the situation and he made it perfectly clear to me he is happy to be selected for England."
The uncapped Jake Livermore, who has had only seven Premier League starts for Tottenham Hotspur, was elevated from Hodgson's standby list for the fixture after the England manager spoke to André Villas-Boas and the coach Tim Sherwood at Spurs. The Norwich goalkeeper, John Ruddy, may be involved from the bench after missing the summer tournament after breaking a finger in training. Jack Butland will link up with the national squad on Sunday evening but will be released back to Birmingham City for their League Cup tie against Barnet on Tuesday and would travel to Berne only if there are fitness doubts over Ruddy or Joe Hart.
Andy Carroll is expected to start up front, after Hodgson spoke to the Liverpool manager, Brendan Rodgers, and Gerrard to gauge the striker's state of fitness and mind with his future at the club still in doubt. "I realise there is a 'situation' there," added the England manager. "We have to accept that a lot of our front players aren't first choices at their clubs and the same has been the case for Jermaine Defoe and Theo Walcott in the past. We have to accept that there are a lot of foreign centre-forwards at the big clubs in the Premier League, so it's not easy for our boys sometimes. But Andy Carroll did well for us when he played in the Euros and I have no worries putting him in this squad."