England players needed sleeping pills after taking a pre-match pick-me-up
Some of Roy Hodgson’s team required sleeping tablets after taking caffeine pills before Tuesday’s postponed World Cup qualifier in Warsaw, it emerged last night after the disappointing 1-1 draw with Poland.
The players had changed and were ready to go out to warm-up on Tuesday, with some of them having taken the tablets when they thought the game would go ahead. Roy Hodgson said that he had felt his team were “sharp and lively” then but that mood had changed by the time they came to play the rearranged game at 5pm local time yesterday.
It was not clear who of the players required help to sleep on Tuesday night. Steven Gerrard said that they would not use the postponement – and poor pitch conditions – as an excuse for what was an under-par performance last night.
He said: “When you’re fired-up, pumped-up, you’ve had your massages and you’re ready to go, that’s not ideal but we’re professionals. We’re playing at the top level and we had to get ourselves up for this but I didn’t think we were totally at the races.
“I slept fine. I won’t use the delay and conditions as an excuse. The reason we didn’t win was because we didn’t pass it when we went in front.”
The goalkeeper Joe Hart took the blame for Kamil Glik’s equaliser last night after Wayne Rooney had given his side a first-half lead. “I came out and didn’t get there,” Hart said. “It’s my fault and that’s cost us the three points.”
Hodgson admitted that his team had not played at their best and, although he refused to blame the day’s delay and the soggy pitch, he said that it had contributed to the poor display from his own players. Hodgson said: “I don’t think we played that well. We’ve got to be satisfied we came away with a point. We didn’t play at all well in the first half and were fortunate to go in 1-0 up. Our passing was better in the second half, but 1-1 was a fair result.
“As far as we’re concerned, the extra day and stay over, the sogginess of the pitch didn’t work in our favour – it’s the same for both teams, of course.
“I had the impression earlier in the week that the players were looking sharp and lively. I didn’t have that impression [yesterday]. I don’t know if that’s due to the extra night, the sodden pitch or that we didn’t play well on the day. There are days when you don’t hit the heights. A point in Warsaw is not to be looked down upon.”
The draw with Poland means that England remain top of Group H with eight points, although they face a challenge from Montenegro, who have a game in hand against San Marino, the weakest team in the group. Poland, with five points from three games are also within reach. It means England’s home and away games against Montenegro, who won in Ukraine, will go a long way to decide the group.
Rooney, substituted in the second half, said that he had tired after being moved out to the left wing. “First half I was making long runs back and then trying to get forward and then went out to the left for the second half and I was a bit tired, so I’ve no problem with being taken off.
“We knew it was a tough group, but we’re confident. We believe in ourselves and we believe we are the best team in the group.”
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