• World Cup

Pressure is on England - Hodgson

ESPN staff
September 10, 2013
Hodgson confident ahead of 'Cup Final' qualifier

Roy Hodgson has acknowledged that the pressure is on England as his side prepare to face Ukraine in Tuesday's potentially decisive World Cup qualifier.

England are currently top of Group H, a point ahead of Ukraine and leading Montenegro - who have played an extra game - on goal difference.

A defeat in Kiev would allow Ukraine, who play Poland and San Marino in their final two qualifiers, to seize control, but any other result will keep England in charge, with Hodgson's men still to face Montenegro and Poland at Wembley.

"Of course there is pressure," Hodgson said. "We are getting closer to the situation where we are either going to achieve our goals and qualify for the World Cup or we are going to fail.

"You cannot get away from that, but what does discussing and admitting it do? What would you like me to say in answer to the question? 'I don't feel any pressure and I couldn't care less'? Or: 'I can't sleep a wink and I'm frightened to death we are going to lose'?

"Fear does play a part in our lives. It plays a part in people's lives outside football. If you've got ambition to do your job well, the fear that things might not go the way you'd want them to is always there.

"Sometimes you've got to be bold enough to trust in what you can do."

England's task has been rendered more difficult by the absence of Wayne Rooney, Daniel Sturridge and Danny Welbeck, which means Southampton striker Rickie Lambert will start on Tuesday.

Lambert, who had played for the likes of Stockport, Rochdale and Bristol Rovers before joining Southampton in 2009, scored the winner on his international debut against Scotland last month and then netted in the 4-0 win against Moldova on Friday.

However, Hodgson said: "I would like to play down Rickie for his own sake because it is almost a fairytale that you get selected at 31 having played in the lower leagues, then come on in your debut and score a fantastic centre-forward's goal.

"On top of that you then play an important game, score one, set up two and look as though you have never been outside an England set up in your life. That is some achievement.

"I am bit worried we are going to hang a bit too much on him [against Ukraine]. The important thing is that he plays his part in the team and makes certain he doesn't let us down in any way.

"Who knows? He might surprise us and add a third to the fairytale, but if he doesn't he is still going to be a player England will get some use out of in the future."

Frank Lampard will earn his 100th cap in the game.

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