How Will They Line Up: England vs Poland
England manager Roy Hodgson has claimed “the future of English football rests on 90 minutes” in Tuesday’s decisive World Cup qualifier against Poland at Wembley.
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After seeing his side defeat Montenegro 4-1 on Friday, Hodgson knows a win this week will guarantee the Three Lions a place in Brazil next summer.
“For me, the future of English football rests on 90 minutes tomorrow night,” he said, before admitting he has some nerves heading into his biggest match since taking over as England boss.
“I am a worrier, football at the level we work at doesn’t produce people who do not worry. I have great faith and trust in the players, I don’t think I can put a bunch of stronger, more confident bunch of players on the field.
“However, I am also aware football is not science. It is a game and things happen in games you don’t always want to happen and that is what makes you worry a bit.”
The man-of-the-match display produced by debutant Andros Townsend against Montenegro has seen Hodgson hailed in the media as a bold decision maker, and he concedes the move to include the Tottenham youngster was something of a gamble.
“I’m quite lucky at the moment as when the squad gets together I’m often impressed by what the squad looks like in training, but with Andros making his debut it was always going to be a big game for him and I think he deserves a tremendous amount of credit,” Hodgson said.
“It was fantastic what Andros Townsend did on Friday. The decision to play him was based on a judgment call. What could really help us in this game? What sort of player is the kind of player we need to break down this defence? What type of player could turn the tide for us if things are not going our way against a strong Montenegro defence.
“I think that was the right one, whether Andros had played good or not. Luckily for me and for England, he had a good game, but he could just as easily have had a bad game, and that would not have affected the judgment call.
“All he knew was that we trusted him and the players trusted him. Of course if he plays again tomorrow it will be different as every time he doesn’t control a ball, well people will ask what is wrong with Andros Townsend.”
Hogdson said the presence of 18,000 Polish fans would lift the visiting team in a qualifier that has little significance for them as their World Cup hopes have evaporated.
However, he suggested the decision to give extra tickets to away supporters was not taken lightly.
“I presume it will [lift them],” Hodgson said. “I’m sure they would rather play in front of 18,000 fans than hardly any fans at all like we have had to do sometimes away from home.
“But we have a lot of Polish people living in this country and from what I understand, the FA were virtually forced into giving the Polish FA these tickets as there would have been safety issues with infiltration from Polish fans among the English fans.
“If our fans get behind us as they have done so far, I don’t fear that.”
Hodgson would not be drawn on his team selection for the Poland game and insisted that both Jack Wilshere and Michael Carrick “were in contention” for starting spots, before suggesting that not even his own players had a clue about the starting line-up yet.
“I am not even so certain that the players have a clear idea [about the team] because we have only had two days between games and we haven’t done a lot of functional work in our preparation,” Hodgson said.
“I’m blessed with some fantastic players [in midfield]. Steven [Gerrard] and Frank [Lampard] did exceptionally well the other night, but Michael [Carrick] and Jack [Wilshere] are first-class players and it is always going to be a headache for me which ones I pick. I would be bold enough to say any combination of those four will do the job for us.”
Hodgson also refused to give any clues as to the identity of who will play at right-back against Poland, with Tottenham’s Kyle Walker suspended.