England arrive in Miami heat

Andover Advertiser: Roy Hodgson, pictured, has arrived in Miami with his England squad Roy Hodgson, pictured, has arrived in Miami with his England squad

England touched down in the sweltering heat of Miami on Monday morning to begin the next phase of their World Cup preparations.

England arrived at Fort Lauderdale airport, 30 miles north of Miami, just before 8pm local time on Sunday (1am Monday morning BST) before taking a 30-minute coach drive into the city.

They then checked into the Mandarin Oriental hotel in the Brickell Key area of the Florida city.

England manager Roy Hodgson said the nine-hour journey over the Atlantic Ocean was "very good" when asked by the assembled media at the hotel.

Around a dozen reporters and cameramen had gathered to greet the 23-strong squad as they stepped off their coach.

The first man into the hotel was goalkeeping coach Dave Watson. He was followed soon after by the likes of Wayne Rooney, Steven Gerrard and Leighton Baines, who was carrying his guitar on his back.

The squad had a brief walk around their hotel before retiring for the night following a long day travelling.

The 23-man party, along with standby players John Stones and Jon Flanagan, will begin their preparations for Wednesday's friendly against Ecuador with a training session at Barry University on Monday.

England's departure from Luton airport was overshadowed by a stunt by comedian Simon Brodkin - best known for his performance as Lee Nelson in two BBC comedy series.

He was pictured attempting to mingle with England's players and staff as they waited for their luggage to be removed from a coach which had delivered them to a private terminal at the Bedfordshire airport.

Dressed in an identical suit to those worn by the England travelling party and brandishing a passport, Brodkin spent several moments in close proximity to the players before he appeared to be spotted first by captain Gerrard, after which members of security and local police intervened.

Brodkin was spoken to by a police officer before leaving the area.

A BBC spokeswoman said the stunt was not for a BBC project.

Temperatures will exceed 30 degrees centigrade and humidity levels will be high in Miami, where England will face Honduras three days after the Ecuador game.

The Three Lions will then fly to Brazil, where they begin their World Cup campaign on June 14 against Italy in Manaus.

Hodgson says he will field an experimental line-up against Ecuador in the first friendly in the Sun Life stadium, which is the home of NFL side the Miami Dolphins.

"Our plan really on Wednesday is basically to start the people who didn't start on Friday (against Peru)," said Hodgson, meaning the likes of Raheem Sterling, Luke Shaw and Rickie Lambert are likely to face Ecuador.

Meanwhile, Hodgson has promised that his players will sing the national anthem loud and proud this summer.

"You very rarely play an international match against opponents and they haven't got their hands on their hearts and singing their anthem as loud as they can, and we've made a decision that that's what we're going to do too, because we are proud, we are happy to be wearing that England shirt," the England manager said.

"We have been doing it for two years. We are proud to be England players and, in my case, England manager, so when the national anthem comes up it's an obvious one for me that we sing it."

Given that Hodgson's 23-man World Cup squad contains 12 players who were not part of Euro 2012, the England boss will issue a reminder to his party for Brazil that they must sing the song this summer.

"Perhaps we need to remind them as the squad has changed so much," the 66-year-old said. "I hope they will.

"I think we're great until the second verse comes along because we don't really know that," he added with a smile.

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