England have been piling on the layers in the Algarve to make sure they are ready for the sweltering heat which awaits them in Manaus.
When Roy Hodgson picked the luxurious golf resort of Vale do Lobo for a pre-World Cup training camp, he probably had visions of his squad being put through their paces under the baking sun, but that has not been the case so far this week.
Temperatures in the south-Portuguese resort have barely been over 15 degrees centigrade and a powerful cold wind blasted through the squad’s first and only opening training session at their base yesterday.
To up their body temperatures and sweat rates, Hodgson had the players wearing three layers during the hour-long session.
In addition, Dave Reddin, Hodgson’s head of performance services, recommended the players wear special pads underneath their tracksuit tops.
That way, England’s medical staff, and three sports scientists who have been brought to Portugal from Loughborough University, can assess how the squad responded to sweating buckets – as they will do in the jungle on June 14 when they face Italy.
“The players wore sweat pads for part of today’s training,” the England manager said. “We tested how much they sweat, how they will be able to recover and what can be best done for them to help them.
“They will be analysed in terms of the extra heat we tried to generate. It is part of our process which Dave (Reddin) and his team have formed – it’s about learning to be comfortable being uncomfortable.
“There are going to be uncomfortable moments (in Brazil) and you’ve got to learn to get comfortable with that.
“We started off on the first day just with them wearing the extra gear for the warm-ups and then we’ve increased it.
“When the word came to take the tops off there weren’t too many who kept them on. They were very quick to whip them off so it is obviously working.”
Humidity levels can reach over 80 per cent in Manaus, so Hodgson wants to do everything he can to help his players reach peak condition ahead of the Group D opener.
It is a far cry from his previous experience at a World Cup when he just bunged his Switzerland players inside a sauna for a while prior to USA ‘94.
“Compare that to what we are doing now and it was an unbelievably amateurish performance,” the 66-year-old said.
Interestingly, the Italian squad have been doing fitness sessions in saunas at their base in Coverciano, Florence.
Back in Portugal everything is going to plan for Hodgson’s 23-man squad, apart from the weather.
Dr Steve Peters, the acclaimed psychiatrist who will be with England all summer, gave an introductory speech on Tuesday night at their hotel.
“The players were very attentive and listened to him,” Hodgson said of the man who has worked with some of Britain’s leading sports stars, including Ronnie O’Sullivan, Chris Hoy and Victoria Pendleton.
“He’s an entertaining man. The things he’s done in life are quite amazing. I don’t know how old he is but to do all the things he’s done in life he must be about 150 at least.”
On the training pitch, England’s injury worries are easing. The only player causing Hodgson problems is Wayne Rooney, who was a little annoyed at being told to sit out the final part of the session as the England manager wants to ease the striker back into training following a groin injury.
“He is a bit disappointed because I decided to leave him off the exercise I am doing which involves a lot of shooting because I think I should protect him,” Hodgson said.
“If it had been up to him, he would have been in it having as many shots as all the others.”
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, who has not played for a month due to a groin problem, took part in the whole session.
Phil Jones damaged his shoulder playing against Hull just over two weeks ago, but Hodgson says the Manchester United defender is recovering ahead of schedule.
Jones did not take part in any ball work yesterday, but he went through an intense fitness session along with standby defender John Stones, the former Barnsley man sat out the main session as he twisted his knee slightly in training on Tuesday.
“There is nothing wrong with him, it’s just a precaution,” Hodgson said.
The England manager made a point of speaking to the young players in the squad – such as Luke Shaw, Raheem Sterling and Ross Barkley – during the windswept training session.
“It was just to tell them they are here on merit,” Hodgson said. “I told them they shouldn’t feel overawed by the occasion because they have player so well and deserve their place.”
England return on Friday before a farewell friendly against Peru at Wembley.