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Friday, October 12, 2012
Hodgson angered by 'keeper challenge

Roy Hodgson hit out at San Marino goalkeeper Aldo Junior Simoncini after his challenge on Theo Walcott in the early stages at Wembley left the Arsenal forward in hospital.

• Walcott taken to hospital
• Brewin: Lions make meal of it

Walcott suffered a suspected broken rib in the incident, and looks likely to miss Tuesday's encounter against Poland in Warsaw.

The frustrated England coach said the challenge had marred his side's 5-0 World Cup qualifying win, adding: "If I described it as reckless, I would be being kind. It was a very fierce challenge, although I don't think for one minute there was any malice in it. Irrespective of that, it was a very bad challenge."

He said England would "have to wait" to find out the extent of Walcott's injury, explaining: "He's having a scan. It didn't look too good, but until they have X-rayed it and scanned it, we really don't know. It did put a dampener on the evening."

Hodgson praised the contribution of the Wembley crowd to his side's win, saying: "There are a lot of positives. There were almost 85,000 people - I thought that was fantastic.

"The type of football we played would have entertained them. There could have been a lot more goals, but there was a lot of goalmouth action and a lot of quality passing in the game. We were patient, we probed and created chances on a regular basis throughout. They were two extremely positive aspects."

He also had glowing words for stand-in skipper Wayne Rooney, whose two goals saw him overtake Tom Finney, Nat Lofthouse and Alan Shearer with 31 England strikes, putting him fifth on the all-time list.

Hodgson said: "He still has a lot of years of football in him. I thought all the Manchester United players played with enormous confidence, and the inter-passing between them was good throughout.

"There was never any doubt he was a good captain. There was no question in my mind that he would captain the team well, but I'm looking forward to seeing Steven Gerrard back in the team on Tuesday.

"A few other players didn't start the game today, which means we go to Poland with a good strong squad with some players who will be quite fresh because they did not take the field."

The San Marino coach, Giampaolo Mazza, defended his goalkeeper and said: "It was unfortunate, just an accident. Obviously the goalkeeper didn't do it on purpose. We are really sorry for Walcott and hope he will recover for Tuesday."




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