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World Cup: England youngsters take on Italy and fans spend big

 

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England boss Roy Hodgson has selected a squad built on pace, energy and youthful attacking flair. Only six of England's 2010 World Cup squad and 11 of their Euro 2012 party remain.

"When we get the ball we are going to go for it, we are going to attack," Hodgson has said. "But we are also going to make it clear to them that they can't go gung-ho at any time."

The class of 2014 are England's second-youngest World Cup squad in history,  behind the squad of 1958 squad - which was one of just two occasions the Three Lions have failed to make it out of the group stage. The other, of course, was 1950, the only previous time the World Cup was played in Brazil.

Hodgson believes his team is in perfect shape for their opening World Cup game: "We are physically fit, mentally fit and we are tactically prepared," he said.

"That is all you can ever hope for. Now we are ready. Now we will play and let's hope it goes our way.

"The players will go into the game knowing what they have got to do. I know they will feel well prepared and are looking forward to the game. Bring the game on."

That mood has certainly struck a chord with fans on the high street. Argos's parent Home Retail Group has enjoyed a strong quarter, as customers snapped up TVs for the tournament.

Britain's biggest household goods retailer, which also owns the DIY chain Homebase, said it benefited from better weather than last year. Like-for-like sales at Argos climbed 4.9% in the 13 weeks to 31 May, the company's first quarter, led by strong demand for seasonal products and electrical items such as TVs and video game consoles, while tablet sales slowed. Sales grew 7.9% at Homebase, boosted by seasonal products including garden furniture along with big-ticket items like kitchens.

The company said some TV sales had been brought forward, which is what happened at the last World Cup.

The company's chief executive, John Walden said: "We are pleased with this encouraging start to the year, but remain mindful that we will annualise more challenging comparators in both businesses through the remainder of the year."

Other retailers, especially on-line, are also hoping to cash in on World Cup fever, with clothing etailers poised to tap into the feel-good boost to spending.

Research company Conlumino estimates there will be a total spend of £184m on clothing and accessories across the four-week tournament.

Online retailers expect to reap much of the rewards, as the research company expects 93.9% of viewers to watch the matches from home, with many shopping simultaneously.

New Look – which has created a World Cup range of 17 styles of T-shirts, vests and shorts adorned with English and Brazilian flags – is hoping to see a big uplift in online sales during the games. It claims online browsing increased 25% during the UEFA Champions League final in 2012 and is expecting an even bigger increase this weekend.

Shop Direct, which owns Very.co.uk and Littlewoods.­com, has already had a £1m boost in sales since the launch of the official England campaign on March 31, through the sale of 10,000 England team shirts.

But retailers have been warned to increase online security during the tournament as sponsors, including Adidas, have been targeted by online hacking group Anonymous.

The group is threatening to attack the sports giant in protest against the amount of money spent on the event. It argues Brazil should spend its money on general infrastructure and public services rather than the World Cup.

JB

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