Cole still first choice - bookies

Ashley Cole is likely to be England's left-back at the World Cup, according to Sky Bet.

Last Updated: 16/10/13 at 14:35 Post Comment

Leighton Baines: 9/4 to start England's World Cup opener

Leighton Baines: 9/4 to start England's World Cup opener

The Leeds-based bookmaker make Cole 1/3 to start England's opening game of the tournament in Brazil next year with Leighton Baines out at 9/4.

With Cole injured, Baines started this week's final two qualifiers as England booked their ticket to next summer's finals with wins over Montenegro and Poland, with the Everton man getting good reviews with his performances.

However, Sky Bet clearly feel Cole, when fit, remains Roy Hodgson's first choice.

Sky Bet have a full market on which players will start the tournament opener.

Based on the firm's prices, this would be the team which plays that opening match:

Hart, Johnson, Cole, Jagielka, Cahill, Walcott, Wilshere, Gerrard, Welbeck, Rooney, Sturridge.

All bar Theo Walcott (11/10) are odds-on in the market.

Frank Lampard, Michael Carrick and Andros Townsend are all on the fringes and offered at 5/4.

Sky Bet also bet on who will make the squad and the prices suggest England's 23 men for the finals will be:

Hart, Forster, Ruddy, Walker, Johnson, Cole, Baines, Cahill, Jagielka, Jones, Lescott, Gerrard, Walcott, Wilshere, Carrick, Lampard, Townsend, Milner, Cleverley, Barkley, Rooney, Sturridge, Welbeck.

Such a scenario would leave Chris Smalling (10/11 to make the squad), Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (13/8) and Rickie Lambert (13/8) all missing out.

Sky Bet football trader Chris Spicer said: "Andros Townsend was 12/5 to be on the plane after being named in the latest squad but having impressed in his first two caps he's now deemed likely to go at 8/15.

"Others are either on the verge of breaking through, such as Raheem Sterling who is 7/2 to make the squad, or a veteran like Jermain Defoe (3/1) who will be hoping experience can win him a spot."

In the outright betting, England are 22/1 to win the World Cup.

The Three Lions were 25/1 to lift the trophy before Tuesday's win over Poland, which ensured they topped Group H but remain eighth in the betting, with host nation Brazil the 100/30 favourites ahead of 5/1 trio Germany, Argentina and Spain.

Belgium (14/1), Italy (16/1) and the Netherlands (20/1) are all priced shorter than 1966 winners England, who have now qualified for five consecutive World Cups.

In other markets, England are 9/1 to exit the tournament on penalties - just as they did in 1990, 1998 and 2006 - while in their stage of elimination betting, Sky Bet make a last-16 exit favourite at 13/8. That was the stage England lost to at the last World Cup in 2010.

Meanwhile, Sky Bet are already looking ahead to next month's European play-offs and expect Portugal (30/100), Croatia (4/9), France (4/9) and Ukraine (8/13) to make it to Brazil.

Greece (evs), Sweden (6/5), Romania (5/2) and Iceland (4/1) are the outsiders ahead of Thursday's seeding announcement. The play-off draw will take place on Monday.


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