John Ruddy and Jack Butland left to sweat by Roy Hodgson over England spot

England boss Roy Hodgson is keeping his cards close to his chest over his starting XI for the friendly clash against Italy this evening.

Speculation is rife over who will line up in goal in the absence of Joe Hart, who pulled out of the encounter in Berne with a minor injury.

Norwich City's John Ruddy is in contention for the vacant spot but he has competition from Birmingham City youngster Jack Butland, who has never played at higher level than League Two but featured from Team GB in the recent Olympic tournament.

While both keepers would usually be given a chance to impress in a normal friendly, both teams have been limited to six substitutes apiece so Hodgson revealed he may have to be more frugal with his selections.

When asked who would start in goal, Hodgson told a press conference: 'I can't say that because I haven't actually spoken to the players.


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'I haven't even given them an indication of who is playing unless they try to read my mind during the training sessions and see how people line up there. As far as Jack and John, they're pretty much neck and neck for a place in the team and I'm still to decide whether I just choose one or whether possibly we have enough substitutes to enable me to give each of them a game.

'And that wouldn't be wrong and if we didn't have the restrictions on substitutes I could tell you now.

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'But I have to be a little more careful when you can only use six.

'I'm quite anxious we give quite a lot of the players the chance to get on the field and play but we're only allowed six substitutes so in actual fact 19 players is still more than enough.

'We'll still have more substitutes than we're allowed.'

Frank Lampard is set to captain England as they attempt to gain a measure of revenge for their defeat to the Azzurri in Euro 2012. The Chelsea midfielder was absent for the tournament in Poland and Ukraine due to injury as England went out at the quarter-final stage on penalties.

Theo Walcott yesterday became the fourth player to pull out of tonight's friendly. Walcott reported for duty On Monday with a slight thigh problem which has not eased sufficiently for Hodgson to think it worthwhile for the Arsenal winger to make the journey to Switzerland.

Gunners colleague Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, plus Hart and striker Daniel Sturridge have also pulled out, but Hodgson has opted not to bring in any replacements, other than Joleon Lescott, called up on Monday.

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