We'll get stronger as the tournament goes on, says Hodgson


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The Independent Online

Roy Hodgson declared last night that his side would go from strength to strength, after a draw with France which left him deeply satisfied.

"We'll get fitter as well – match fitter. I hope this gives us a good platform," Hodgson said. His only injury concern was Ray Clemence, who snapped an Achilles tendon in the warm-up – the goalkeeping coach must go home.

The manager believes that players who missed the last games of the domestic season – Danny Welbeck, Scott Parker and John Terry – will be stronger for Friday's match against Sweden in Kiev. "The more we train and play, the fitter they'll become," Hodgson said.

France's manager, Laurent Blanc, said that "if we look who played the most football, it was France" and his left-back, Patrice Evra, later seemed to criticise Hodgson's side.

"At times it was like there were 15 bodies on [the line at times]. It was really difficult for us to find the space," said the Manchester United defender. "They played in the way Chelsea played against Barcelona."

But Hodgson was happy. "I hope we've established ourselves [as hard to beat], but I've [only] had three games," he said. "Am I satisfied with those three games, and have the players done what's asked of them? Yes. But we've got Sweden now. Let's wait and see. You don't become a really good team in three matches and 10 training sessions."

Samir Nasri, who left the stadium with an ice pack on his knee, offered "shushing" gestures to French journalists who have criticised him for leading demands for bigger bonuses. "That's between him and his detractors," Blanc said. "That's something personal. I think Samir was happy to score a goal and play a good game."

Hodgson said the selection of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain had paid off with "the ability he has to skip past defenders", and added: "He has the ability to beat people, an important ability to have."

The captain, Steven Gerrard, said: "We would've been delighted with a win but you've seen tonight that France have fantastic players. We have to be satisfied with the performance but we are not going to get carried away. This was always going to be a platform."