England 'ready for Balotelli'

Midfielder Jack Wilshere says Italy wildcard Mario Balotelli will not be able to get under England's skin when the teams face each other at the World Cup on Saturday.

Last Updated: 10/06/14 at 11:23 Post Comment

Mario Balotelli: Well-known to the England squad after his spell with Man City

Mario Balotelli: Well-known to the England squad after his spell with Man City

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Balotelli is well known to the England players after his turbulent two-and-a-half years at Manchester City, with his sometimes eccentric behaviour on and off the pitch frequently making the headlines.

But Wilshere does not expect the 23-year-old to put England off their game in Manaus at the weekend.

"First and foremost, we have to worry about him as a player," said Wilshere.

"He is a great player. We have seen that in the past. But we have got players who have played with him like Joe Hart, and we have defenders who have played against him in the Premier League.

"I don't think that will be a problem."

The climate of Manaus, with temperatures expected to exceed 30C and humidity levels of more than 70%, has been a well-documented feature of the match, ever since the draw was made.

But England's preparations have taken the weather into consideration, with various plans in place to reduce its impact on players who are not used to operating in such extreme conditions.

Exercise bike sessions in saunas and training in multiple layers in Portugal, Florida and Rio were designed to replicate the conditions expected in Manaus, while giant cooling fans will assist the players cool their body temperatures at half-time.

"We have cooling systems in the dressing room," said Wilshere.

"It's good. We went on tour in Malaysia and you were struggling for air. It's different heat in Malaysia, it is hot over there but the humidity was over 90% and in Manaus it will be around 75.

"We're prepared for it, myself and as a team. I don't think Manaus causes any fears.

"Maybe before when we saw the draw, but now we've prepared. We trained hard in Portugal, we trained with the extra layers, we went to Miami and stepped it up a little bit.

"Now we are feeling really good and we've got things in place - like the cooling systems in the dressing room which is going to help us and we're fully prepared."

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