Hodgson values England gains above losses
England manager Roy Hodgson is adamant that England's achievements in 2013 should not be overshadowed by their back-to-back friendly defeats against Chile and Germany.
Hodgson's side secured a place at next year's World Cup with victories over Montenegro and Poland in October, but after losing 2-0 to Chile on Friday, they were beaten 1-0 by Germany at Wembley on Tuesday.
It was the first time since 1977 that England had lost consecutive games on home turf, but Hodgson does not think the two results should tarnish memories of a year in which the Football Association celebrated its 150th anniversary.
"It's been a great year for the FA. It's been a great year for me, because we've qualified for the World Cup," he said.
"We've used a lot of players, we've used these two very tough friendly matches, but I'm not prepared to accept for one minute that that's going to take the shine off what's been a very good year, and a year in which we've achieved our goal.
"We've got an awful lot to look forward to in 2014. A lot of players are going to be fiercely trying to contest their place in the squad. I'm looking very much forward to 2014 and I thank 2013 for that."
Whereas the team that lost to Chile was experimental, Hodgson drafted several of his most high-profile players into the side to face Germany, only to see them undone by a 39th-minute Per Mertesacker header.
In contrast, Germany were accused of fielding a 'B team' after making eight changes to the team held 1-1 by Italy on Friday, but Hodgson said it was inaccurate to say that the line-up he had picked was his strongest.
"Seven players who could certainly feature in my first-choice line-up weren't even in the 26-man squad," he said.
"There's a lot of players to be assessed and discussed before we can start saying this was a first-class line-up."
While Hodgson admitted that Germany were "clearly better" in terms of passing and finishing, he said England had been hindered by the departures of Steven Gerrard and Ashley Cole early in the second half.
"Steven missed all of last week's training and was stiffening up a little bit, so we took him off to protect him," Hodgson said.
"Ashley Cole has a problem with his rib and felt it at half-time, and it was pretty obvious he couldn't continue."
Germany ended the year unbeaten in seven matches, having topped their World Cup qualifying group with a superb record of nine wins and one draw.
"We began the year very positively, on a high by winning against France on their home turf, and we finished the footballing year with two classics, against Italy, where we should have won, and against England, where we did win," said Germany coach Joachim Loew.
"I think I can approach 2014 with a sense of quiet confidence. Many of the players who I wanted to test today (Tuesday) can be proud of having withstood the pressure of playing to such a great crowd -- 85,000, it was fantastic.
"There's only one international left for me to test things and see where we are, and that's the Chile game in March.
"It's a bit of a pity, but you can't change that, so our thoughts as we end this year are already directed towards what's going to happen next year and what we need to change."
Despite professing himself "very satisfied" with his team's progress, Loew warned that Germany will be weakened if they are unable to recover a number of important players from injury.
"There were some setbacks over the year with injuries affecting players who are normally firmly established -- (Bastian) Schweinsteiger, (Ilkay) Gundogan, (Sami) Khedira, (Miroslav) Klose and (Mario) Gomez," he said.
"These are players that, for the time being, we managed to compensate for, but who we'll definitely need to be fit in 2014."
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