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England won't change approach

14 October 2013, 18:36

London - While the gloom has lifted around England's prospects of reaching the World Cup after their 4-1 hammering of Montenegro on Friday, manager Roy Hodgson says his approach has not altered in the face of criticism throughout the campaign.

England faced a storm of condemnation about their conservative play after the goalless draw with Ukraine last month, a result that left them needing to win both their remaining qualifiers against Montenegro and Poland to book an automatic place in Brazil.

On the back of Hodgson's surprise decision to give Tottenham Hotspur winger Andros Townsend an international debut, England threw off the shackles as they scored four second-half goals against Montenegro to complete half the required task.

They now lead Ukraine at the top of Group H by one point, with many hailing their attacking approach as something new under Hodgson's leadership, a point he disputed.

"We have tried to play that way all along," Hodgson told reporters on Monday ahead of Tuesday's clash with Poland at Wembley.

"If people have wanted to see the quality of our passing and the quality of our movement, there are a lot of games they could have used to prove that if you like.

"It seems to me the criticisms came largely as a result of a 0-0... it seems to be 0-0 games are an anathema to journalists and they see lots of terrible things when teams draw 0-0.

"Nothing much has changed in terms of our approach, although I would say we are getting better all the time.

"I think a lot of the younger players, the exciting players add something to our team."

His comments were echoed by captain Steven Gerrard, who denied the win against Montenegro had been a turning point.

"I wouldn't say so, no.

"The belief and the confidence has always been there in the squad.

"We know a lot of people have had some negative opinions outside the group but that's not important."

The selection of Townsend, who scored England's third goal on Friday, was a decision based on what was required for the match, said Hodgson, whose only loss in a competitive fixture since taking the job has been against Italy in a penalty shoot-out at the 2012 European Championship.

"With regard to Andros, it was fantastic that he did what he did, but I would also say there that the decision to play him... was based on a judgement call, i.e. what sort of player could really help us in this game and what sort of player do we need to break down this defence," Hodgson said.

"I think that judgement call was the right one, whether Andros had played good or badly.

"Luckily he had a good game but he could just as easily have had a bad game, but that would not have affected the judgement call."

Hodgson said he had yet to settle on the line-up for Tuesday's match, although defender Kyle Walker was unavailable due to suspension.

Anything less than victory would force England into the playoffs, with Ukraine certain to beat minnows San Marino on Tuesday.

Poland cannot qualify for the World Cup, but will be boosted by having up to 20 000 fans cheering them on after the Football Association increased the number of tickets available for the visitors.

"We have a lot of Polish people living in this country and there would have been safety problems if those tickets hadn't been distributed in the way the FA have," Hodgson said.

"The 65 000 against 20 000 is a good margin for us.

"I don't fear them."

- Reuters


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