England’s World Cup team is training in Miami this week and playing two warmup matches to get acclimated to the steamy, humid weather it will face in Brazil’s Amazonian rainforest of Manaus, site of its June 14 opening match against Italy.
The first day of training was a bit wetter than they wanted.
The team was met by a deluge as it arrived at Barry University on Monday morning for a closed-door workout, and most players were relegated to indoor fitness work. Only the goalkeepers got to do some training on the field.
“The weather was pretty similar to back home in Manchester,’’ joked midfielder James Milner. “It was a bit of a dash from the coach to the changing rooms. But, we got to be in and around the heat, and that’s exactly why we’re here. After a long flight, we weren’t going to do much training, anyway. It was just a jog to get our legs going.’’
Goalkeeper Ben Foster, at 31 delighted to be playing in his first World Cup, added: “It [the weather] is perfect and exactly what we want. Humidity is the issue, but temperature’s not a problem. It is identical to what we will face [in Manaus]. I don’t think the training was a major problem as it was more of a case of getting loose.
“We had a bit of a storm before we went out, but it was always going to be a slight session anyway. It was mostly gym work and the lads all have their personal programs. The main thing is to experience the weather so it is not a shock to our system when we touch down in Brazil.’’
The English team, which plays matches at SunLife Stadium against Ecuador on Wednesday and Honduras on Saturday, has been doing all it can in recent weeks to get ready for the Brazilian weather. Players have been wearing extra layers of clothing during workouts, and doing stationary bike work in heat chambers. Trainers have been experimenting with hydrating drinks. And the team had a camp in Portugal, though the weather was colder than they expected.
“We are getting used to being uncomfortable,’’ Milner said, smiling. “We’re trying to cover all the bases, and have had a really good buildup so far.’’
In addition to Italy, England faces Uruguay and Costa Rica at the World Cup, which is why Ecuador and Honduras were chosen as opponents this week. They also played Peru last week, and won 3-0.
“We obviously played more against European opposition, so it was more important in the warmup games for us to get used to Latin American teams, and getting that experience,’’ Milner said.
Foster said: “We want to play against Latin American teams to see their energy levels, see how they cope with the humidity, and that is what we hope to gain from these matches.’’
Foster, the West Brom goalkeeper, accepts that he is Joe Hart’s backup, but is delighted, nonetheless, to be on the squad. He took a break from international competition a few years back because he had small children, a decision he says he doesn’t regret.
“This is my first major tournament, and it is incredible,’’ he said. “I am 31 and it might be my last World Cup, so I am over the moon. When I got the text message it was pride more than anything. For my family, mum and dad, brothers and sisters.
“The reason I took a break from it was I had two very young children and it was a huge wrench being away from them. Whenever I was away I just wanted to be back home with the kids and family. It was a bold decision. I stick by it.’’
He praised manager Roy Hodgson for allowing players to have lives outside their job.
“Roy is fantastic and is a people’s person. He gets footballers. We are not just machines and have a personal life with our family.”