Sport Soccer

Wednesday 21 February 2018

Players must keep cool heads in heat of Brazil – Hodgson

Roy Hodgson
Roy Hodgson

Sam Wallace

Roy Hodgson has said that his England players are ready to handle any provocation and dirty tricks that might be thrown at them in the World Cup, after keeping their cool on Saturday night in the face of an aggressive Honduras team.

The England manager was scathing about their opponents in the 0-0 draw, admitting that he could not bring himself to praise his opposite number Luis Fernando Suarez's team when he spoke to the Honduras manager after the game. There were seven bookings in the game, three of them for England, and the dismissal of Brayan Beckeles for an elbow on Leighton Baines.

On top of that, the England players found themselves surrounded by their opponents on a number of occasions when play had stopped after fouls. Hodgson said that it was crucial preparation for the kind of attitudes they could encounter while in Brazil.

In the early hours of Saturday morning, England's Group D opponents Costa Rica had a man sent off, Giancarlo Gonzalez, against Republic of Ireland and striker Kevin Doyle needed five stitches in his head after the foul.

Hodgson said: "If we had played Sweden or Norway we know exactly what we're going into, how those teams play and how they behave. This (against Honduras) is something different, the culture in those countries is different and I think we've had a nice little taste of it. Certainly I was very pleased with the way the players kept their discipline, kept their shape.

"We didn't even give them a sniff of a goal chance and sometimes in these games that frustration can lead to people doing silly things and you end up losing one. They didn't react at all."

Baines said he was booked in the fracas created by Honduras players that followed him accusing an opponent of going down too easily. "I think, in the most part, we did well to keep our composure," he said. "I thought some of the challenges were a bit harsh. The one on Stevie (Gerrard, in the first half), I was just happy to see him get up.

"But you didn't see loads of us rushing over and making a meal of it, we kind of got on with it. I got booked when I asked someone why he had gone down and all of a sudden there are three or four people pushing you around. You have to walk away from that.

"We have shown that even in these moments we don't engage in that kind of nonsense. There were a couple of strange decisions from the referee.

"We are just happy to get down to Brazil with everyone in good shape apart from Ox (Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain)."

The England squad arrived in Rio de Janeiro yesterday morning with Oxlade-Chamberlain on board. He walked out of the stadium on Saturday night moving freely, albeit with a knee brace back on his right leg.

The Arsenal midfielder is not the only injured member of the party: Hodgson's assistant Ray Lewington suffered a locked knee overnight last week and needed an operation in America. He is currently on crutches.

Gary Neville, another of Hodgson's assistants, was embroiled in a minor controversy last night when it emerged he told a cameraman who would not leave him alone to "f*** off".

Neville was out on a walk with fellow staff members when he was subject to the TV camera being pushed into his face for a mile as he walked along the bench.

No players were present, although they were allowed out and met locals informally.

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