Paolo Di Canio said England will struggle in the heat in Brazil, ahead of their FIFA World Cup campaign.
Roy Hodgson’s men tackle Italy at the Arena Amazonia in Manaus on June 15, in what is set to be one of the most tropical of climates for the tournament.
The former Sunderland boss took aim at England, claiming they would not be physically suited to the Amazonian heat as much as their opponents – Di Canio’s countrymen – will.
“I’ve noticed some difficulties for Italy but the Italian players have the value of flexibility, they can change position,” Di Canio said.
“They may lack a true identity but at a physical level our work from the past two weeks will be better than that of the English, who are exhausted.”
Di Canio claimed the Premier League’s insistence to play through the Christmas/New Year period costs their national representatives, unlike players from leagues such as the Serie A, Bundesliga and La Liga, who do have a mid-season break.
“England are missing parts, the reserves are not up to scratch,” the Italian said.
“The players are tired – I really like Wayne Rooney but he arrives in these competitions cooked, because he plays a lot of games in the season.
“He gives all of himself in every game and the Brazilian temperatures will be very hard for him. In England they do not have a winter break and it is great to play at Christmas, but they then pay for this in June. In this period, fatigue can be devastating.
“England have freshness, youth, but it will be difficult for them to go through. They are unable to manage themselves. They always put in the maximum and always have to give 200 per cent.”