Hodgson plays down Parker fitness concerns

01 June 2012 03:17

England manager Roy Hodgson brushed off fears over Scott Parker's fitness on Friday, insisting the Tottenham midfielder would be ready in time for his team's opening Euro 2012 clash with France.

An escalating injury crisis claimed midfielders Gareth Barry and Frank Lampard this week, further depleting Hodgson's options in an area where Jack Wilshere, Jack Rodwell and Tom Huddlestone are already sidelined.

After digesting the news of Lampard's withdrawal 24 hours earlier, Hodgson awoke on Friday to be greeted by headlines outlining concerns that Parker, nursing an Achilles problem, was now a doubt.

However the manager insisted that while Parker had still to build up match sharpness after missing the tail end of the domestic campaign, the 31-year-old would be fine to face France in Donetsk on June 11.

Asked if he was concerned by the defensive midfielder's fitness, Hodgson replied: "No, not particularly, no more so than the obvious one that we were going to have, that when he came to join us having not played for Tottenham in the last two or three matches in the league.

"So that was obviously going to be a factor, but we also knew we had lots of training time and now in the two weeks we've been training he's taken part in every training session and he's also played 60 minutes already and he's available to play tomorrow.

"So he'll be getting fitter by the day, as will Wayne Rooney, and we're quite happy that by the time we play France people will be in good physical shape."

England face Belgium at Wembley on Saturday in their final warm-up before heading to their Euro 2012 training base in Krakow, southern Poland.

Hodgson, who drafted in Jordan Henderson to replace Lampard, is confident the squad possesses enough talent to be competitive at the Euros despite the prevailing mood of pessimism.

"I'm satisfied with the group we've put together, I believe in the group," Hodgson said. "I'm disappointed to have lost two senior players, but on the other hand it's a great opportunity for someone else.

"The door that closes on you is a door that opens for someone else."

Hodgson said he had not considered contacting Manchester United's Michael Carrick, who had declared himself unavailable for England earlier this year.

"The contacts with Michael were actually conducted before I took the job," Hodgson said. "It was made clear to me that he wasn't a player who wanted to be considered, so quite frankly he wasn't a player I did consider."

The England manager meanwhile downplayed suggestions that England's opener against France, who are unbeaten in 20 games, could decide Group D.

"The French seem to think it will be the key match in the group, but you never know that until the group gets going," he said.

"We're looking forward to it and we know it won't be easy.

"The French are on a fantastic unbeaten run, but all runs have got to end sometime and we hope we're the ones that will bring that run to an end."

Source: AFP