Hodgson ready for first England match

26 May 2012 08:17

Roy Hodgson has said he is more concerned about victories at Euro 2012 than avoiding the fate of Sir Alf Ramsey by losing his first match as England manager.

Hodgson takes charge for Saturday's friendly with Norway in Oslo, the latest in a long line since Ramsey in 1963 to try to galvanise a set of players whose ability has thus far translated into a single major international honour.

"This is a preparation game and it would disappoint me if the mood of the nation was lowered if we happened to lose," said Hodgson." I'm not prepared to build up this game. I've got to make certain I use it - and next week's match against Belgium - to learn and make certain we make as few mistakes possible when we get to play the ones that really count."

Expectation is starting to rise once more, chiefly on the rather flimsy basis of England not being quite as bad as everyone thinks. It is hardly an argument that will worry the favourites in Poland and Ukraine next month, with Hodgson accepting he is on a pretty steep learning curve after just four weeks in the job.

Nevertheless, the Norway game is one of significance for Hodgson, who has often been overlooked in England largely because the vast majority of his career has been spent overseas.

"I'll certainly feel proud," he said. "But I shouldn't feel surprised. I've had quite a lot of good offers of top jobs in my time. I'm very pleased to have this one, but surprise shouldn't be a factor. Nervous? Less so tomorrow or against Belgium next week. I am more curious about what I'm going to find out.

"If I should be nervous, it'll be before we play France in the opening game at Euro 2012. But when the day comes when you don't feel nervous before a game, that's the day when you're losing your passion and real desire."

Hodgson has dumped Rio Ferdinand fairly unceremoniously and has also spurned three opportunities to pick Manchester City's Micah Richards given the defender was omitted from his 23-man squad, plus the standby list before being ignored when Martin Kelly was called up as cover for Glen Johnson on Tuesday.

Then the pre-tournament training camp to Spain, initially put in place by Fabio Capello and tweaked by Stuart Pearce was scrapped and Wayne Rooney and the Chelsea Champions League contingent were given additional time off.

It means by the time England face France in that Group D opener in Donetsk on June 11, they will have had only 12 training sessions as any sort of group.

Source: PA