James Milner believes that England being drawn in Group D for next summer’s World Cup may actually be a blessing in disguise.

The Three Lions are set to face Uruguay, Italy and Costa Rica in just under seven months’ time, in what has been dubbed the competition’s ‘group of death’.

Having topped their respective qualification section, Roy Hodgson’s men could have expected a far easier set opponents in Brazil, which has prompted speculation that advancing to the knock-out stage may be beyond the team’s capabilities.

But Milner – who is likely to make the trip after being a regular within the squad of late – feels that playing tough opposition from the very start could actually be a positive.

“It’s not easy but it’s a World Cup and everybody has earned the right to be there,” Milner told The Metro.

“They are all good teams and if you go there with a so-called easier group, you might not come out of the box as fast as you need to.

“We know we have to be on top of our game in the first game of the group and that could be an advantage, hitting top gear straight away, and then carry through the tournament like that.

“It could work in our favour.”

England will start their campaign by facing Italy – in what could be a pivotal tie in the outcome of the group – before facing Luis Suarez’s Uruguay ahead of a final match against underdogs Costa Rica.

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