Hodgson unconcerned by expectation
Published : 19 Jun 2012 07:17:29
Roy Hodgson welcomes the growing anticipation of Euro 2012 success.
After leaving for Poland and Ukraine amid such low expectations, England's opening two performances have triggered far more optimism, although a point from their meeting with co-hosts Ukraine at the Donbass Arena on Tuesday night is still required for passage into the last eight.
Hodgson said he wants to embrace the hype, dismissing the idea of a fear factor taking hold. He said: "It's not just England who haven't always performed when the expectations were heightened. There's quite a few teams that have failed. It's a fact of life. We've come here with the England national team. We believe in ourselves and we want to do well."
"In some ways it's rather nice that people back home are hoping and even believing we can do well, and we're giving them something to dream about and cling onto," he added.
It was Walcott's introduction that turned what looked like becoming a defeat to Sweden into a victory that leaves England heading into their final fixture level on points with France.
With the Group D winners now certain to meet Italy and avoid tournament favourites Spain, who face the runners-up, Walcott's additional pace may be utilised ahead of James Milner after he did so much running in Kiev.
"The technical staff have done such a good job helping the players recover," said Hodgson. "We've been very anxious to make sure we use the training sessions, and in particular, the recovery sessions wisely.
"I get the feeling at the moment that the players are as fit and ready for this third game as they were for the first. I don't necessarily feel the need to change people because I'm worried about their legs or their ability to see the game through.
"The team that's been doing so well is ready to go. On the other hand, there are plenty of people who are out of the team, as you saw with Walcott when he came on the other night, who are very anxious to make a statement as well."