Hodgson: England games no holiday

31 August 2014 12:46

Roy Hodgson has told Premier League clubs to forget about pulling players out of England duty just because they are tired.

International football returns to England next week and public interest in the national side is at its lowest ebb for many years.

As a result of England's miserable World Cup campaign, as few as 35,000 fans could be at Wembley to watch the Three Lions take on Norway in a friendly.

But even though the public are not interested in the match, or the qualifier against Switzerland five days later, top-flight clubs and the England players they have on their books should not view the upcoming international get together as a holiday, Hodgson insists.

Whenever Hodgson has to choose a squad, he wants his players fully focused when they report for duty, and he feels it should not fall upon his shoulders to rest players if they start to fatigue.

"The players can't regard the international breaks as the unofficial winter break, like a lot of club teams do, they have to accept it," the England manager said.

"The national team plays seven, eight or nine games a year. I think we should have the right to accept that those players are going to be available and play for us and if they need a rest then I think it might be incumbent upon the clubs to give them one."

Hodgson insists Wayne Rooney's appointment as England captain will not lead to burnout for the 28-year-old.

Rooney was appointed Manchester United captain just over a fortnight ago, but Hodgson says the striker will not have too much extra work to do with England now that he is skipper of the national team too.

"Being captain won't affect his work load," Hodgson said.

"Nothing more will be asked for him. He will have to sit beside me at press conferences.

"If it was necessary to leave a player out we could, but we have started to create an environment here where the players actually won't want to sit out."

With Steven Gerrard, Frank Lampard and Ashley Cole having retired, Rooney is by far the most experienced member of the 22-man squad selected for the upcoming double-header.

The second most experienced player in the party is James Milner, the 48-cap midfielder who cannot hold down a regular first-team place at Manchester City.

Despite the lack of leaders available to him, Hodgson is optimistic about the next two years.

The former Liverpool manager insists England will qualify for Euro 2016 - although that is not hard given that the top two teams from each group qualify automatically - and he is confident his team will put on a good show in the tournament its self.

The 67-year-old has cited Germany's recovery from mediocrity to World champions as a reason for optimism.

"I am not prepared to approach this with doom and gloom," he said.

Hodgson knows he must not let the disappointment of England's World Cup campaign linger if he is to drag the team out of the gutter though.

"I must not allow the fact that those results went badly to totally blast out of the water all the things we want to do," added Hodgson, who said England's early elimination in Brazil was down to "fine margins".

"The players have to make certain they can't allow the negativity to impact upon them or it will ruin their chances.

"You have to be mentally strong and deal with it, because we can't turn the clock back."

Hodgson is yet to make his mind up whether he is interested in managing England beyond the summer of 2016, when his contract expires.

Only an impressive European Championship would lead to a public clamour for him to remain, and in two years' time he will be 12 months shy of his 70th birthday.

That said, there is hardly a stellar list of English candidates out there waiting in the wings.

Hodgson will not make a decision on his future for some time, though, it seems.

"I haven't given that a thought at the moment," he said.

"I have to make sure at the end of my contract that I am not looking in the mirror and saying 'I wish I had done something different'.

"In 2016 who knows what will happen. Maybe I will want to continue, maybe they (the FA) won't want me, maybe i will want to retire."

Source: PA