Cesare Prandelli expects tough test from ‘improving’ England

• Italy coach wary of 'new players' in Roy Hodgson's squad
• Denies reports he is in frame to take over at Tottenham

The Italy coach Cesare Prandelli is wary of underestimating World Cup opponents England and believes they have improved since losing to the Azzurri on penalties at Euro 2012.

Roy Hodgson's side were eliminated at the quarter-final stage after a 0-0 draw in Kiev, with Italy going on to reach the final, where they lost 4-0 to Spain. Yet despite suffering successive home defeats to Germany and Chile in November before beating Denmark earlier this month, Prandelli is expecting a far stiffer challenge when his side clash with England in their opening match in Manuas on 14 June.

"I think England have improved a lot," he told the BBC. "They have discovered new players, especially the wingers, and athletic players who run a lot. Despite the fact we dominated that game, we weren't able to score - I'm sure this will be a totally different match to the one we played two years ago."

Prandelli added: "We'll find a different England, with different footballers, because like I said, in the last months they have been good and lucky enough to scout new and talented players."

Prandelli, who was appointed Italy manager in 2010, has been mooted as potential replacement for Tottenham's Tim Sherwood should he leave in the summer. The 56-year-old has a close relationship with Spurs' technical director Franco Baldini from their time together at Roma in 2004 but denies any interest in moving to the Premier League.

"Baldini works for Tottenham so they say I might go there," said Prandelli. "Maybe in some years he'll work for a third division Italian team and they'll say I'll manage that side!"

Prandelli claims he has already been offered a new contract by the Italian Football Federation (FIGC) but is willing to take a break if his tenure is not extended beyond the World Cup.

"If we find an agreement with the FIGC we'll go on together, otherwise I'll take a break - I won't strike an agreement with any club," he added.

"The extraordinary thing is that, for the first time, the FIGC is offering me a contract renewal regardless of what happens at the World Cup. This has never happened before and maybe it's a sign that times are changing for the better." © 2014 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds

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