ESPN FC Extra: Inside England's decline
England manager Roy Hodgson says he has never contemplated the prospect of failure to qualify for next summer’s World Cup finals, as he prepares for two games at Wembley that will decide his team’s fate.
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Victory against Montenegro and Poland will secure England a place in Brazil next summer, and Hodgson remained confident as he faced the media in his pre-match briefing ahead of the first of those fixtures on Friday evening.
"We have never discussed not qualifying," he said. "Within the camp, we are convinced we are good enough to qualify and with two home games to come, we are convinced we will do the job.
"Words like fear, concern or anxiety haven’t crossed our minds or our lips. I have been very impressed by the training this week and I am convinced we will deliver and I am convinced we will see a very good England team against Montenegro.
"There will be a lot of good teams that won’t get to Brazil next year, but I’m convinced it won’t be us."
Hodgson also played down Arsenal midfielder Jack Wilshere's comments about 'foreign' players representing England as a misunderstanding.
"His comments, if they were not misunderstood, they were translated in a way that people wanted to translate them," Hodgson said.
"The subject matter is worthy of debate and at the end of the day, it’s going to be the result of a policy decision taken by the FA. He was asked an opinion, he gave an opinion. Some people liked it, some didn’t.
"We are constantly complaining that players don’t have an opinion and that when they are asked questions they never come out with anything that is worth listening to. So I think it is quite wrong to criticise someone for having an opinion."
Hodgson went on to insist he has 'no worries' about Wilshere’s state of mind after a couple of weeks when he has made as many headlines off the field as he has on it.
"We expect so much from Jack and that is a slight problem for him," Hodgson said. "Steven Gerrard went through that at the start of his Liverpool and England career because when someone comes along that is seen as an incredible talent, you expect so much from them.
"Every time they fall slightly below the standard you hope to see, the alarm bells start ringing, but he has been in good form this week and he has put behind the unfortunate furore over his quotes.
"It has not affected him on the field. England will get a lot out of him not just in these two games, but for a long, long time to come."
Hodgson is relieved to have a fully-fit squad to select from ahead of the Montenegro game and while not confirming Liverpool's Daniel Sturridge will start the game, he was fulsome in his praise of the in-form striker.
"I can’t make any comments about who is going to start, but it is nice to see a player like Daniel Sturridge come into a squad like this and feel so comfortable at an early stage and strike up a good relationship with the other more senior players he has been partnership this week."