LONDON (AP) — The selection dilemmas Brazil coach Luiz Felipe Scolari faces ahead of Wednesday's friendly at Wembley are ones England counterpart Roy Hodgson wants.
For the first match of his second stint with Brazil, Scolari could find no space in a 20-man squad for stars including Real Madrid midfielder Kaka. If England is to be a strong contender at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, Hodgson knows he needs to be in a position where top talent can't fit in his squad.
"That's how it should be if you are the manager of a top footballing nation," Hodgson said. "A country like ours should have a couple of good choices in each position. The Brazilians certainly do. "I'm looking at their squad and there's probably another 10 or 12 that we could name that could easily have got in there ... it might be nice if one day if all our discussions focused around how you have two fantastic left backs, three fantastic right backs, eight fantastic center backs."
Hodgson is yet to complete a year with England, having taken charge before the European Championship when the team reached the quarterfinals. England's form has been patchy since Euro 2012, and sits second in its World Cup qualifying group, two points behind Montenegro. The last match, a friendly against Sweden in November, was lost 4-2.
In Stockholm, Steven Gerrard made his 100th international appearance, and the captain is among the plethora of options Hodgson does have in central midfield. Jack Wilshere, Frank Lampard, Michael Carrick and Tom Cleverley are also chasing starting spots.
"We are really blessed in that central position with a lot of talented players," Hodgson said. "One very good player has to set aside. The mistake can be to try and include them all," he added. "But I'm not going to ask Jack Wilshere, Frank Lampard, Steven Gerrard or Michael Carrick to go and play on the right wing. They need to play central."
Gerrard is the leading light, while Lampard has made 93 appearances, Carrick 26, and Cleverley six. There's also Leon Osman, who made his England debut at 31 against Sweden. Such is the depth of options, Hodgson now feel he enjoys, midfielder Gareth Barry hasn't been selected since being injured before Euro 2012. And Scott Parker, who was at the heart of England's campaign in June, has not been recalled despite returning from injury for Tottenham.
"These are not players who are forgotten," Hodgson said. But everyone can't be pleased. "You are better off having to talk about a player who is left out who is a top, top class player than discussing players who are left out that a lot of people would suggest are not at that very high level," Hodgson said.
And at left back, Hodgson also relishes having to choose between Ashley Cole and Leighton Baines. "They will just have to fight it out," Hodgson said. "The competition between them will be fierce and ... I will have to disappoint one of them."
Cole is a strong contender to lift the top players' prize on Sunday night at the first awards' dinner for all the England teams. "He is world class," Fabio Capello, who quit as England coach a year ago, said ahead of the event. "He is always consistent, has fantastic energy, incredible experience and you can rely on him in any situation. His attitude matches his ability and he gives everything for the team."
Cole is likely to start on Wednesday to earn his 100th cap, although Baines could appear in the second half to make his 14th international appearance. England is using the Brazil match to prepare for World Cup qualifiers next month against San Marino and Montenegro.
For Brazil, this is the latest friendly on the road to hosting the World Cup in 2004, but the first Scolari will be taking charge of since 2002 when he delivered the country's fifth world title. "For Phil and (technical director) Carlos Alberto they are probably thinking they could have had an easier start than England at Wembley," Hodgson said. "It's our job to make sure they don't get an easy start as we are looking forward to the game and think it will be a great occasion."
Rob Harris can be reached at http://twitter.com/RobHarris