Roy Hodgson is convinced England will qualify for the knockout stages of the World Cup if they repeat their performance against Italy in the final two group games.
England emerged from their trek to the jungle with a 2-1 defeat to the Italians, but they were unlucky not to claim at least a point in a thrilling clash in Manaus.
England went for the kill from the off, with Raheem Sterling, Danny Welbeck and Daniel Sturridge all launching blistering attacks that had Italy on the ropes.
Unfortunately for Hodgson, Italy exposed England’s defensive weaknesses to inflict a damaging defeat courtesy of goals from Claudio Marchisio and Mario Balotelli.
Hodgson admits England may have to win both their remaining games against Uruguay and Costa Rica, but he is confident that the team will do it.
“We had a very young and inexperienced team on the field at the end, but they made some bold moves and didn’t let anyone down,” the England manager said.
“That gives me great hope and confidence.
“If we can continue at that level, I think we can go on and win both matches and stay in the tournament.
“You don’t win your next two matches if you win the first and you don’t necessarily lose your last two matches because you lost the first.
“We will prepare for them and we will try and do our best to get the win we had a good chance of getting against Italy.”
Sterling managed to ripple Salvatore Sirigu’s side-netting inside three minutes and in the second half the onslaught continued as Wayne Rooney sneaked into the box, although he could not convert two good chances.
With Uruguay losing their opening game against Costa Rica, they too need to win on Thursday and Hodgson predicts another thrilling match in Sao Paulo.
“It is likely to be a similar encounter to the Italy game. I think it will be cut and thrust,” he said.
“There will be two teams, who have lost the opening game and know they have to win the next one.”
The good news for England is that Uruguay looked incredibly vulnerable to pace in their shock 3-1 defeat to Costa Rica on Saturday.
Costa Rica, big outsiders to qualify from the group, ruthlessly pulled the Uruguayan defence apart, and Benfica defender Maximiliano Pereira was sent off, meaning he will miss Thursday’s game in Sao Paulo.
The bad news for England is that Uruguay striker Luis Suarez is closing in on a return to full fitness after sitting on the bench throughout the Costa Rica loss with a knee injury.
“It would have been very difficult for him to come on,” Uruguay coach Oscar Tabarez. “If he improves there is a chance he may play.”
England’s only injury in Manaus came to physio Gary Lewin, who broke and dislocated his ankle after landing on a water bottle celebrating Sturridge’s equaliser.
“Quite a few of our players cramped up. That is something we will look into,” Hodgson said. “We have worked very hard on hydration and we still did cramp up quite a lot.”
England landed back in their Rio base on yesterday morning. They will train at their Urca base today and tomorrow before flying to Sao Paulo the day before the match.
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain has stepped up his rehabilitation from a knee injury and could be in the frame to face Uruguay.