FORMER Stratford assistant manager Jason Cadden is backing England to reach the quarter finals – if they can escape the group stages.
A long-time follower of the national team, Jason has travelled to England games home and away since the late 80s – watching them at the World Cup in France in 1998 and Germany in 2006 and the European Championships in Holland/Belgium in 2000 and Portugal in 2004.
And provided they can make their way out of what he describes as a ‘challenging’ group, Jason – who guided Leamington FC to five promotions during his nine years at the club between 2000 and 2009 – maintains the squad has the talent to make it to the last eight.
He told The Observer: “I believe if we can squeeze through the group, it’s an easy-ish game afterwards so I think the quarter finals are a definite possibility.
“It depends how brave Roy is. We need to play the young lads especially against Italy with the expected heat in the middle of the rainforest, there’s a real opportunity to have a go in the first 25 minutes and sneak a goal.
“It would be nice to beat the Italians and I think if we do that, we could get six points, which should be enough to see us through but the only way we will do any good is to just have a go.”
The dad-of-three is also hoping Roy Hodgson will give his young Lions a chance to shine.
“If I was to have a bet I would always put Rooney down as first goalscorer but he hasn’t really ever scored in the big games,” he admitted.
“Adam Lallana could be a big star and possibly one of England’s biggest threats. He’s had a great season and having watched him at Wembley against Peru, if anyone looked like scoring, it was him.”
Over the years, Jason has seen many talented England prospects come and go, but for him there will always be three standout players.
“I couldn’t choose a favourite player – I think my top three would have to be Paul Gascoigne, Gary Lineker and David Beckham.
“I was at Euro 96 when Gazza scored against Scotland and he was always a great player, especially for his country. Lineker got some wonderful goals and Beckham, well, what can you say!
“Seeing players perform like that is part of the reason I still enjoy watching England and I go to Wembley whenever I can but I’ve done my travelling now.
“Like everyone else, I’ll be keeping my fingers crossed hoping they do the best they can to make themselves and the nation proud.”
* Jason will be involved in a special World Cup ‘Party on the Pitch’ event at Stratford Town FC on Saturday (June 14).
Ahead of England’s game vs Italy, which kicks off at 11pm and will be screened, there will be also live bands and entertainment from 6pm.
Admission is priced at £10 for adults and £5 for children.