Wilkshire previews Group D - Europe v the Americas

While the Socceroos are widely considered to have drawn the World Cup's “Group of Death”, the countries in Group D might argue otherwise.

The fact that England, Italy, Uruguay and Costa Rica have been pitted together means that two of these nations, who will all have harboured realistic expectations of progressing from their group, will fail to reach the Round of 16.

Socceroos defender Luke Wilkshire, who started his senior career in England playing for Middlesbrough and Bristol City, says that expectations are always high for the Three Lions at major tournaments.

“There’s no doubt they’ve always got high expectations, they’ve got a great team,” said Wilkshire following the Socceroos first training session in Vitoria.

“Going into a World Cup they’re always expected to be in the top four as a minimum, so they’re always under a lot of pressure.”

Casting an eye at the Socceroos 2006 World Cup nemesis, Italy and Wilkshire acknowledges the Azzurri will always be right up there in terms of being a competitive force.

“They’re always strong, they’re always well structured,” he said. “They’ve got a lot of quality players and they always seem to come good in these sorts of tournaments.

“They’re going to be a very tough team to beat.”

A Luis Suarez inspired Uruguay are also not to be underestimated – especially on South American soil. Wilkshire came across the talents of the former Ajax striker when he was at fellow Dutch club Twente and thinks their nation's hopes rest on his shoulders.

“It’s a shame about his (Suarez’s) injury, he’s a big part for Uruguay.

“Obviously his goals are phenomenal and I think he’s the driving force behind Uruguay, so I’m sure they’ll be hoping that he’s fit.”

Finally to a team Socceroos fans will be familiar with as they were Australia’s first opposition under coach Ange Postecoglou, Costa Rica. Similar to the Socceroos they will go into the World Cup as rank underdogs but can use this staus to their advantage.

“I don’t know much about Costa Rica,” said Wilkshire who was absent from the Socceroos 1-0 win in Sydney last November. “They’re obviously big underdogs and I say good luck to them.”

“I think England and Italy (will be the two to go through).

The Socceroos play Croatia in a friendly next Friday night (kick off 9am AEST time Saturday morning live on Fox Sports) ahead of their tournament opener against Chile on June 13.

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