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'Monkey' row a lesson

09 November 2013, 10:29

London - England manager Roy Hodgson admits that the 'space monkey' race row has taught him to be more cautious, but he refuses to censor himself when speaking to players and journalists.

Hodgson sparked a media storm last month when it emerged that he had urged his players to pass the ball to mixed-race Tottenham Hotspur winger Andros Townsend using the racially sensitive phrase "feed the monkey" at half-time of England's 2-0 win over Poland in their final World Cup qualifier.

He was referring to a joke about a monkey sent into space that reportedly circulated at US space agency NASA in the 1960s, but although Townsend claimed not to have been offended, Hodgson was obliged to make an apology.

While Hodgson admits the incident has made him more wary, he says he will not allow it to change his way of working.

"It should make me cautious, but it's always going to be very difficult when it comes to innocent remarks that you can't possibly imagine are going to be construed as they were," he said.

"It behoves us all to be very careful, but it's very difficult also to totally change your way of working and your way of being and your personality overnight.

"So to come from someone who's always approached the job as I approach it, and even approach press conferences as I approach them, to become that taciturn, one-word answer person, I don't know how you do that."

Despite his desire to put the matter behind him, Hodgson nonetheless expressed doubts that the story, which initially appeared in British tabloid newspaper The Sun, had been leaked by a member of his squad.

"I only have it on the word of the person that wrote it that it came from the dressing room," he said.

Hodgson on Thursday named his squad for England's friendly games against Chile and Germany later this month, awarding call-ups to uncapped Southampton pair Jay Rodriguez and Adam Lallana and recalling Liverpool's Jordan Henderson.

Of the players selected for the Under-21s, he cited West Bromwich Albion forward Saido Berahino, West Ham United midfielder Ravel Morrison, James Ward-Prowse of Southampton and Nottingham Forest's on-loan Chelsea midfielder Nathaniel Chalobah as individuals who could force their way into his thinking for the World Cup.

However, with only three friendly games scheduled before he names his squad for next year's tournament in Brazil, he said the time for experimentation had passed.

"It'll be a question of certainly looking at (Everton midfielder) Ross Barkley, but I'll also have to look at people like Ravel Morrison and Ward-Prowse and Nat Chalobah, who are also pretty well advanced," he said.

"But it's the balance of making certain that we continue to work with the combinations and work on the way we play with the players who are tried and tested.

"I can't virtually say, 'Right, all of you guys, I know you.' I can't afford to do that, because otherwise I lose two important games where combinations which I want to work at and want to keep looking at, I wouldn't be able to do so."

Hodgson also voiced support for Manchester United winger Ashley Young, who was criticised for going down easily to win a penalty in his side's 0-0 draw away to Real Sociedad in the Champions League on Tuesday.

Hodgson did not name Young in his squad, but he said the debate over his alleged diving was "a matter of opinion" and encouraged him to win back his place in the United team.

"He's got between now and May to a) get into the Man United team; b) play well in that Man United team, and when that happens, he's definitely going to be a player we're going to be considering and talking about," Hodgson said. "The ball is very much in his court at the moment."



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