Hodgson - England ready to fight

  • Last Updated: October 19 2012, 7:26 BST

Roy Hodgson is not concerned about his England team finding themselves in a World Cup qualification dogfight.

Hodgson: Unfazed by current situation

Wednesday night's draw in Poland means the Three Lions will lose their narrow advantage in Group H should Montenegro, as expected, win their game in hand against San Marino in November.

Having already dropped two points against Ukraine at Wembley last month, few now believe England will be able to simply cruise towards the finals in Brazil in 2014.

Indeed, should they lose to Montenegro on March 26 in their only meaningful qualifier before next autumn, there will be a huge question mark over England's presence in South America.

However, Hodgson is confident his players have the character to meet such challenges - and may even be better for it.

"If it's a dogfight, it's a dogfight. There's nothing wrong with that," he said.

"The good thing is we know we can stay and take part in a dogfight.

"We took part in a few dogfights during the Euros and we certainly dug in against Poland and showed the right sort of character and determination.

"There will be some groups where one team shoots away and others where it's going to be quite close and I still think we will improve.

"But I think you'll find that come November we'll be very much in the mix.

"And if sometimes you've got to fight your way for something, rather than just sail through, that can help.

"Russia and Holland sailed through to the Euros but neither of them got out of their groups.

"Italy went there with loads of problems, we were led to believe, not least politically - and ended up in the final."

In fairness to Hodgson, his side have continually shown their battling qualities, and did so again in Warsaw to emerge with a point when they could easily have been beaten.

What they lack, and have done throughout his 11 games in charge, is a touch of class.

Cohesion must also be an issue when you have used 34 players in the space of five months, 25 of them more than once.

"It is a lot," said Hodgson.

"But it wouldn't be a fair criticism to say we've chopped and changed around.

"It's more a case of looking at several players to see if they can start to worry some of those who are up in 80 or 90 caps.

"And I think we are quite close to bedding a team down."

There is some truth to Hodgson's words, but in other ways he is miles off.

Italy's Euro 2012 qualification record was eight wins and two draws from 10 games - Spain won all eight matches and all 10 on the road to South Africa 2010 - so there is a correlation between qualifying form and tournament performance.

More pertinently, the age-old question of how to get the best out of Wayne Rooney remains.

In addition, the absence of a physical driving force in midfield was apparent until Tom Cleverley was switched inside, whilst the loss of John Terry has created a massive hole at the back.

Impending returns from injury for Jack Wilshere, Chris Smalling and Phil Jones are awaited with anticipation.

On top form, all three would be very useful additions.

As it presently stands though, their ability has to be taken on trust and in Wilshere's case in particular, after 16 months out, he has to prove himself all over again.

There is time though, before that trip to Podgorica, where England lost a two-goal lead and Wayne Rooney lost his head 12 months ago, and Hodgson needs to use it wisely.

The alternative is too grim to contemplate.

"It would be teaching my grandmother to suck eggs if I was to stand up in front of the players and tell them what they might be missing," said Hodgson.

"They would regard that as slightly insulting.

"There's a lot of football still to be played and the bottom line is that this is not an easy group.

"It would have been lovely to have got off to a flyer and be sitting here with 12 points.

"But you don't get what you want by asking for it. You get what you want by playing for it.

"Ukraine played very well at Wembley and deserved their point. Poland played well and deserved their point.

"If you'd said to me at the start, given the circumstances, that we'd have eight points and be unbeaten at this point, I'd have been happy to accept it."

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