• Premier League

Rodgers expects England 'to flourish' at World Cup

ESPN staff
October 17, 2013
Brendan Rodgers was wanted by Harry Redknapp to work in the England set-up © Getty Images

Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers believes that England can be competitive at next year's World Cup finals in Brazil, despite the fact that both manager Roy Hodgson and FA chairman Greg Dyke have played down their chances in recent months.

"I think England will go there with not so much expectancy on the group, which might help them to flourish," he said.

"I've always thought that England have the talent and the technical players to participate in the game at a high level. It's whether they're asked and encouraged to do that. Let's hope, for their sakes, that they can next summer."

England's qualification was sealed by Steven Gerrard in Tuesday's crucial 2-0 win over Poland.

The Liverpool and England captain will lead his side into action at Newcastle on Saturday with 99 Premier League goals to his name.

And Rodgers said: "I think what gets lost with Steven sometimes is that people talk about him as this great captain and leader, and forget that he's still a world-class player.

"He's got big talent. He scored what you'd say was a typical Gerrard goal the other night - breaking forward with power and pace, and just when it looked as though the ball was getting away from him, he reached and got his toe to it for a great finish.

"He's probably the best player I've ever worked with when it comes to tempo. He can play with real quality in a game when the tempo is high. It's incredible.

"And I say that as someone who has been fortunate to work with world-class players.

"He's a remarkable man, a remarkable captain. England should be honoured to have someone such as him representing them on and off the field.

"I think he probably knows that this will be his last shot at a World Cup - and I'm sure he'll be giving it everything."

Rodgers has confirmed that right-back Glen Johnson (ankle), midfielder Joe Allen (hamstring) and left-back Aly Cissokho (ankle) will all be available after injury, but that playmaker Philippe Coutinho (shoulder) is not ready.

He said: "We'll go to Newcastle with our strongest squad of the season.

"Philippe is still working with the physiologist on the field. He's looking very good but he's still not strong enough yet to join the training group."

Meanwhile, Rodgers says he would have been "honoured" to go to Euro 2012 as Harry Redknapp's England assistant - but has played down suggestions that he accepted the job.

Queens Park Rangers boss Redknapp revealed in his autobiography that he sounded out Rodgers to be his England No. 2 in April 2012.

Redknapp, then in charge at Tottenham, believed he was about to be appointed England boss as successor to Fabio Capello - but the post went to Hodgson instead.

Rodgers, who was Swansea's manager at the time, admitted consulting his chairman Huw Jenkins about the possibility of taking on the role, having spoken to Redknapp after a 3-1 Premier League defeat at White Hart Lane on April 1, 2012.

The suggestion in Redknapp's book was that Rodgers agreed to take the England assistant job - although the Liverpool boss insists he was only considering the position.

He said: "My version [of events] was that in April last year, when I was manager at Swansea, Harry asked me after the game.

"He pulled me aside. It was a unique conversation, really. He was obviously very confident, as was probably the nation and everyone involved, that he was going to be offered the national team job.

"And here was a Premier League manager asking another Premier League manager about the possibility of working at the championships that summer.

"And in fairness, it was a quick conversation. I was aware that he was very keen for me to team up with him if he was given the role. There was no decision either way. Out of the total respect I have for Harry, I was certainly going to consider it, because it was something to help him.

"He's a wonderful chemist, Harry. He knows what he wants from a team. He knows the types of players and he knows the exciting style of football he wanted.

"And what he wanted was someone to come in and implement those ideas. There was no 'yes' or 'no' answer on it, but I would certainly have considered it for him, because he's a wonderful man.

"But at the end of it all, it was irrelevant, really. The job was given to Roy and he's done a brilliant job. If it had happened, I'd have seen it as a unique opportunity to show that British players can play football.

"Technically and tactically, they're very strong. They just need that support and confidence to go and play that way."

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