TheFA.com’s Nicholas Veevers blogs from the team's latest base in Colombia.
England’s preparations for their third and final Group F game have seen the squad move on from their previous base in Medellin and north to the coastal city of Cartagena, where conditions will be completely different to what we had grown used to in the Andean altitude of our previous home.
From the moment we stepped off the plane on Tuesday morning (some of the staff travelled in the early morning to set up at the new base whilst the players came in the afternoon) the humidity was immediately apparent, so with a two day turnaround between matches, it is something the players have had to get used to quickly.
The players trained at the Estadio Jaime Moron on Wednesday night at 6pm, so with a 5pm kick-off against Mexico, it will be a big challenge for them all but after the good performance and result against Argentina on Monday night, everyone is confident of getting a result to see us through to the Second Round of 16 and the knock-out stages.
Mexico know that a draw will be good enough to see them through, whilst the Young Lions need a win to mathematically progress although a point will give them a very good chance of progressing as one of the best third placed teams too. So it’s all set for an interesting game.
Whatever the result, the group will have to stay in Colombia until all of the other group games are completed on Saturday evening and there are a number of different permutations as to where we might end up going.
Whoever finishes top of the group, Argentina are probably favourites, will be in Medellin for the next game, whilst the team who end up in second place will head to Pereira. If the third placed team in Group F are to progress, it will be either Manizales or Armenia so there will be a lot of logistics to deal with for whoever succeeds. Click here to see the full fixture schedule for more details.
As for Cartagena, because of the short time we’ve been here there hasn’t been too much chance to explore for anyone as yet. We’re staying in the Hilton Hotel in what is essentially the new part of town, full of high rise apartments and hotels, whilst the Estadio Jaime Moron is across the city and beyond the old city walls and fort which are un-missable as you travel around.
The hotel has plenty of facilities though so the players have been able to get in their rest and recovery in comfort whilst also having optional activities in their downtime, so a pre-match stroll on the beach was taken up on Thursday morning in order to stretch the legs.
Joining us in the hotel as well as Mexico are Austria and Egypt, who play their final Group E game straight after ours. In case you’re wondering why we had to move, it’s so that the last group matches are played simultaneously as is always the case in competitions such as this.
In terms of the game itself, Head Coach Brian Eastick has a number of selection posers following the encounter with Argentina. Left-back Blair Adams is likely to miss the game after picking up a knock in the dying stages of the Argentina game, but with Ben Gordon back in training after recovering from a collarbone injury, he now has a ready-made replacement waiting to come in.
Nathan Baker is available for selection after coming off in the first-half on Monday with concussion, but with James Wallace coming on and doing an effective job in that game with Reece Brown dropping back into defence after Baker’s departure, Eastick now has to decide which side to select.
There are other things to take into consideration of course and it’s fairly certain that all three substitutions will be made at some course during the game due to the taxing conditions on the Caribbean coast.
The game kicks-off at 11pm BST and is being shown live on FIFA.com, so make sure you tune in if possible, and enjoy the game.
You can follow how things go right here on TheFA.com and FATV, with more video interviews and features to come over the campaign, so keep your eyes peeled.
For more instant updates of what’s going on here, follow @thefadotcom on Twitter or even myself on @NVivas79
Until next time,