CHERRIES boss Eddie Howe believes Roy Hodgson's meticulous preparation could be a key factor in England progressing in the World Cup.

Howe also insists the nation should back manager Hodgson's decisions, especially the major talking point over where Wayne Rooney should play.

England, beaten 2-1 by Italy in their Group D opener on Saturday, tonight meet Uruguay in Sao Paulo - with the losers likely to face elimination (8pm kick-off).

Previewing the clash for the Daily Echo, Howe said: “I think Roy Hodgson did a really good job in the build up to the tournament. The team were very well prepared and you could definitely see a different shift this year.

Expectations were lower and there was only talk of football which certainly helps in the lead up to a big tournament.

“I would say it was as good a preparation as the national team has had for a long time and probably the least talked-about we had been in the build up to a tournament. I know we lost our first game but it was always going to be very difficult and, for long spells, we performed pretty well.

“The Uruguay game is going to be crucial. I think we can still qualify and, if we do, I think we could be considered real dark horses to go far because of how well the manager has done in preparing the team.”

Rooney's position - on the left-hand side playing behind lone striker Daniel Sturridge - against the Italians was the subject of much debate among supporters and commentators.

Asked for his opinion, Howe replied: “The only person who can answer that is Roy Hodgson. He works with the players and watches them week in, week out for their clubs. There will always be debate and opinion on football matches. People will always discuss systems, formations and where players are played.

“In my opinion, you have to pick the right manager and then back his decisions. I think we have the right manager so it is a case of backing him and his staff to get the right results. I am certainly not going to be one to say he should do this or that.”

Howe added: “It could be win or bust against Uruguay. Defeat would probably end all chances but a draw still conceivably could be enough. I think we have to try to win the game and see no reason why we can't when you look at some of the players we have.

“I commend Roy on giving young players their opportunity. We have some really exciting young players and, even if it isn't for this World Cup, things are looking good on the international front with the age of the squad he has taken.”