London: Expectations were already muted, but England's chances at the World Cup have now been written off - by the government.
An assessment by the Home Office about extending pub opening hours during the tournament came to the conclusion on Tuesday that Roy Hodgson's team could fail to even reach the knockout phase in Brazil.
The report concluded: "While England are certain to be playing in the matches in the first period, there is a high probability that they will not be playing in the later matches."
Some lawmakers rounded on the downbeat tone, with a peer from the opposition Labour Party, Lord Richard Rosser, commenting: "It is good to know what the government think of England's prospects."
A source close to Home Secretary (interior minister) Theresa May denied that the government believed England's chances were non-existent.
The study was the work of someone "who got a bit carried away with himself", the source told The Times.
England manager Hodgson has picked a young squad to do battle in a tough group against four-time World Cup-winners Italy, South American champions Uruguay and outsiders Costa Rica.
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