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Football: England new-boys fail to dazzle on debuts

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

England debutants Fraser Forster, Adam Lallana and Jay Rodriguez endured a mixed introduction to the international stage in a 2-0 friendly defeat against Chile at Wembley on Friday.

With England's place at next year's World Cup secured last month, boss Roy Hodgson handed first caps to Celtic goalkeeper Forster and Southampton forwards Lallana and Rodriguez for the first stage of his build-up to the tournament in Brazil.

Forster fared slightly better than his fellow newcomers and couldn't be blamed for either of Alexis Sanchez's goals.

But Lallana and especially Rodriguez may have squandered their chance to book a seat on the plane to Brazil after underwhelming contributions to England's first defeat for 11 matches.

While Lallana and Rodriguez may not be required to cancel their holiday plans next year, Forster is regarded as a genuine contender to beat out the error-prone Joe Hart for the number one shirt.

Hart played in all 10 of England's World Cup qualifying matches but recently lost his place in the Manchester City side after a series of costly mistakes.

Forster, dubbed 'La Gran Muralla' (the Great Wall) by the Spanish press after playing a big part in Celtic's 2-1 win over Barcelona last season, was solid for most of the night and may get another chance to impress in Tuesday's friendly against Germany.

Lallana, so confident of his making his debut he had the St George's Cross stitched into his boots, complete with the slogan: "Cap No 1", created England's first chance with a free-kick hit with pace and precision towards Phil Jones, whose header was well saved by Claudio Bravo.

England then fell behind in the seventh minute when Leighton Baines lost concentration, allowing Sanchez a clear run for a close-range header that meant Forster's first significant contribution was to pick the ball out of the net.

Forster saved England from further embarrassment with a solid stop from Jean Beausejour and then stood up well to deny the Chile winger a shot on goal soon after.

Rodriguez was far more anonymous and when he did get a sight of goal he tamely miscued straight at Bravo.

He was hauled off after 57 minutes and it would be no surprise if he joined the forgotten ranks of England's one-cap players.

Lallana was unable to take a pair of decent chances to equalise and he was eventually replaced after 76 minutes with the jury still out on his international credentials.

In stoppage-time, Forster may have gone down slightly early when Sanchez chipped him for the second goal, but was badly exposed by England's poor defending.

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/afp/131116/football-england-new-boys-fail-dazzle-debuts