Hodgson urges England squad to go and 'enjoy' the tournament


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The Independent Online

Roy Hodgson held his first squad meeting with his full array of senior England players yesterday, telling them that they had "worked bloody hard" for their place at Euro 2012 and, in keeping with his low-key approach, saying they should "go and enjoy" the tournament.

The arrival of Wayne Rooney, Frank Lampard, John Terry, Ashley Cole and Gary Cahill meant that Hodgson now has his full complement of outfield players. The squad will be complete today when the Birmingham goalkeeper Jack Butland, replacing the injured John Ruddy, joins.

Hodgson addressed the squad and staff at the team hotel in Hertfordshire yesterday before taking training in the late afternoon. His emphasis on making sure that the pressure does not become excessive for them was reflected in his words to the players.

At training yesterday Ashley Young, above, was the only outfield player missing – he was in the gym – a precaution after a blow to the head in the friendly against Norway. Danny Welbeck and Glen Johnson, the two major injury concerns when Hodgson passed his 23 names to Uefa yesterday, both played a full part in training.

The squad were also assigned numbers yesterday with Andy Carroll given the No 9 shirt ahead of Welbeck (22) and Frank Lampard given No 8 ahead of Scott Parker (17). England will wear their navy and light blue away kit against Sweden in their second group game but they will not take a traditional red away kit.

The Football Association also announced that a group of players, staff and officials would visit Auschwitz and Birkenau, near to the squad's base in Krakow. The backdrop of England's departure to their base in Poland and their group games in Ukraine continued to be the fear of racial abuse from local fans, in the light of the BBC Panorama investigation into the far right's influence on football in both countries. The Ukrainian ambassador to the UK, Volodymyr Khandogiy, condemned the BBC's portrayal of both countries as "biased and unbalanced". He said: "I was appalled [by the programme]... we do not have the problem as it was portrayed in that programme on a societal level or a systemic level."

Nevertheless, the claims made in the BBC documentary about Ukraine were borne out by the Without Borders anti-racist watchdog in Ukraine. Iryna Fedorovich said: "It's a pity we have had to wait for the Euros to start talking about this problem."

The Polish Government has written to the BBC to complain about the portrayal of its country, with fans were filmed singing anti-Semitic songs and using racist imagery. The Polish Prime Minister, Donald Tusk, said that no visitor to Poland would be in danger because of his or her race.