PM plea for unity over England

16 October 2013 05:16

David Cameron insists he can 'always dream and hope' all of the United Kingdom will get behind England at next year's World Cup in Brazil.

The Prime Minister offered his congratulations to Roy Hodgson's team after they secured their place at international football's most prestigious competition with a 2-0 win against Poland on Tuesday night.

But Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland all failed to progress from their qualifying groups, leaving England as the only home nation competing in Brazil next summer.

Mr Cameron told MPs during Prime Minister's Questions: "I'm sure the whole House will wish to join me in congratulating the England football team for their excellent win last night, ensuring they qualify for next year's World Cup.

"My commiserations to the other home nations, including Scotland, who had an impressive win over Croatia last night.

"But I'm sure now that everyone in the United Kingdom will swing behind the English team."

Pausing while MPs cheered and laughed, Mr Cameron then added: "You can always dream and hope."

Labour leader Ed Miliband also offered his congratulations to England.

Cameron's words came after John Barnes sounded a note of caution amid the celebrations at England's qualification.

Hodgson's men finished top in Group H, but Barnes warned that England do not have the class to consider themselves contenders next summer.

"Wayne (Rooney) is our own only truly world-class player,'' the former England winger told talkSPORT.

"Andros Townsend played well but we're not going to win the World Cup by just getting down the wings and putting crosses in.''

Barnes argued that England need to concentrate on developing strong defensive midfielders to complement the attacking talent in the side, but said there is not enough time to unearth one before the tournament kicks off in Brazil.

"We have to develop different types of players rather than just wingers who can get down the line or attacking midfield players,'' Barnes said.

Former England captain Terry Butcher hailed Tuesday night's performance as England's best of the qualifying campaign, coming when they most needed it with only victory good enough at Wembley.

''In the Montenegro game we were very good against a stubborn team, but Poland are much better so it was the best performance for me,'' Butcher said.

Butcher joined those heaping praise on young Tottenham winger Townsend, who only made his England debut against Montenegro on Friday.

''He's come from nowhere when you think about it,'' Butcher said. ''He's worked hard on his game but he's burst on to the international scene in the last week and had a massive impact. I can't think of a better debut since Gazza (Paul Gascoigne) all those years ago.

"Roy Hodgson takes great credit for playing him. It's always hard if you have a great performance to replicate it again a few days on but England did that."

Source: PA