THE barbecue is lit, the ciders are on ice and there is a plethora of sporting action to take in today.

Amid the burgers and beer, conversation will no doubt turn to England’s chances in Brazil prior to tonight’s big kick-off against Italy (11pm).

Whether you’re an eternal optimist or think we’ll be on one of the first planes home, our noisy neighbours from the other home nations will always have a view, but you might just be surprised by what they have to say.


Tommy Elphick, captain, AFC Bournemouth

Verdict: last 16.

Bournemouth Echo: CHERRIES CAPTAIN: Tommy Elphick

“I think we will find it difficult to get out of the group but a lot of it will come down to who best handles the conditions.

“Not many people expect us to do much. I think we will have overachieved if we get through the group and that is as far as I see us going this time.

“The squad has changed a lot and there will be a few youngsters who will benefit from the experience, which will stand us in good stead to do well in future tournaments.”


Richard Hughes, BT Sport pundit and recently-retired AFC Bournemouth midfielder

Verdict: quarter-finals 

Bournemouth Echo: MIDFIELD STALWART: Richard Hughes

“If England can get through the group stage, they are capable of a quarter-final place because they will fancy their chances whoever they get in in the first knock-out stage.

“It’s a tough group but I can see them snatching two draws and beating Costa Rica by enough goals to go through.

"They should have enough to beat whoever comes out of Group C (Colombia, Greece, Ivory Coast, Japan).”


Shaun MacDonald, midfielder, AFC Bournemouth

Verdict: semi-final


Bournemouth Echo: Shaun MacDonald

“They are in one of the toughest groups but individually, they have so many good players and I think they are capable of causing an upset against anyone.

“Over the years there always been something that has stopped them performing as they should as a team but having brought a lot of younger lads into the squad I think they could surprise a few.

“I’m sure a lot of England fans will be pleased just to get through (the group stage) but if they manage that I think they can go all the way to semi-final.”


Mark Gamble, striker, Wimborne Town 

Verdict: group stage.

Bournemouth Echo:

(Image courtesy of Simon Carlton)

“I’m not sure whether you should publish what I have to say! I don’t think England will qualify from the group.

“Both Italy and Uruguay are tactically strong and good going forward. I don’t think England are in the same bracket at the moment and if you draw 0-0 with the likes of Honduras it doesn’t bode well.”


Paul Dunne, head coach, Bournemouth RFC

Verdict: quarter-finals

Bournemouth Echo:

(Image courtesy of Bournemouth RFC's official website)

“I love it when the World Cup comes round, I have great fun with my English friends.

“Every time they try to play down the expectation but when it all starts they just can’t help themselves, they get all excited thinking they’re going to win it.

“They have very tough games in the group stage but I think they’ll get through and go out in the quarter-finals… On penalties!”