Roy Hodgson admits he is delighted to be able to call upon both Wayne Rooney and Daniel Sturridge for England’s two vital World Cup qualifiers.
Having collected four points in their past two matches in Group H, home wins against Montenegro and Poland will assure the Three Lions of their place in Rio next summer. Rooney and Sturridge were both unavailable due to injury for the games against Moldova and Ukraine, and although the former missed Manchester United’s UEFA Champions League draw at Shakhtar Donetsk with a shin problem, it isn’t thought to be serious enough to prevent him linking up with his international pals next week.
The Liverpool striker, meanwhile, has been in the form of his career at club level, with seven goals to his name already. And with Old Trafford’s Danny Welbeck also back in contention after missing the Ukraine clash through suspension, Hodgson is in confident mood that he has the players at his disposal to finally book their place in Brazil.
“I was thinking these two players (Rooney and Sturridge) are in great form,” he said at a press conference. “I’m happy that at the moment things are looking very good squad-wise. I’m very hopeful and very confident that this group of players, as long as they come through this weekend’s games, they will take us there (to the World Cup in Brazil).”
Elsewhere, there has once more been speculation over the future of Joe Hart after the goalkeeper produced another substandard performance during Manchester City’s 3-1 defeat to Bayern Munich in the Champions League on Wednesday. It has been suggested that Fraser Forster, of Celtic, could dislodge him from the national side, but Hodgson has revealed that he will stand by his regular number one selection.
“I believe that Joe will shrug this off,” he told Sky Sports. “As far as I’m concerned he’s never let me or the team down in the time I’ve been working with him. I have every confidence and every faith in him that he will have the confidence to put this behind him. He kept clean sheets against Moldova and Ukraine. We’ve let in three goals in eight games so it’ll take a lot more than one bad game for any player before I start suggesting he is replaced.”
Goalkeepers: Hart (Manchester City), Forster (Celtic), Ruddy (Norwich City); Defenders: Baines (Everton), Cahill (Chelsea), Cole (Chelsea), Jagielka (Everton), Jones (Manchester United), Smalling (Manchester United), Walker (Tottenham Hotspur); Midfielders: Barkley (Everton), Carrick (Manchester United), Cleverley (Manchester United), Gerrard (Liverpool), Lampard (Chelsea), Milner (Manchester City), Townsend (Tottenham Hotspur), Wilshere (Arsenal); Forwards: Defoe (Tottenham Hotspur), Lambert (Southampton), Rooney (Manchester United), Sturridge (Liverpool), Welbeck (Manchester United).