England v Brazil: Roy Hodgson seeks sympathy for England's plight

Coach sees Danny Welbeck join his long list of injury absentees as he prepares to face Brazil

Rio de Janeiro

Roy Hodgson last night urged his critics to back off his depleted England team that will face Brazil at the Maracana Stadium tonight, reminding them that even Barcelona would struggle with a similar scale of injury problems – which now include Danny Welbeck, who is out the friendly.

There will be five outfield players and two goalkeepers on the bench after Welbeck's knee injury failed to clear up. With Daniel Sturridge and Andy Carroll already out and Jermain Defoe not completely fit with an Achilles problem, Hodgson said any side without its lead striker would be diminished.

Facing down pessimism about England's hopes in World Cup qualifying in autumn Hodgson said: "We don't personally feel we are riding the roller coaster from fantastic world beaters to absolutely hopeless but we have to accept that could be a perception. We in ourselves are very much aware of every game and what that game means.

"To some extent you want goalscorers. Let's be fair about it Barcelona are a fantastic team but as soon as Lionel Messi doesn't play they start losing some matches and you can see that around almost every team. Manchester United had a wonderful year but without Robin Van Persie's goals would they have had quite as easy a chance to win the title?

"September is a totally different proposition. I am picking a team at the moment, end of season, with the players available. In September when we go into the qualifiers there might be as many as six or eight very, very interesting, very talented players pushing for a place in the team. I don't really understand how a game at the end of a long season here in Brazil can be a tremendous barometer as to how well you do in September."

The England manager confirmed that Phil Jones will start his first England game since Hodgson's first match in charge against Norway on 26 May last year. There is a suggestion that the Manchester United man could start in a holding midfield role, although he came on for Glen Johnson at right-back at Wembley on Wednesday against the Republic of Ireland.

The big decision for Hodgson is whether he does adapt the 4-4-2 system that he played against Ireland. He could deploy Theo Walcott as a second striker, but other than that he is limited in his options and his mood yesterday seemed disposed to switch to a 4-5-1 or 4-3-3 system.

The England players trained at the Maracana stadium last night, which will be hosting its first match with a full 78,838 capacity since its £370 million refit. Hodgson said that criticism that had been directed at him after the draw with Ireland, particularly Gary Lineker's tweet that tactically the team had regressed to "the Dark Ages" had not affected him.

Hodgson said: "I'm perfectly happy for anyone who wants to come up with criticism, they are quite entitled to it. But I'm more than happy with the way we are playing and moving forward. I'm looking forward to coming back here again next year [for the World Cup finals].

"People back home may realise the situation we find ourselves in as well as we do [Hodgson and Frank Lampard, the captain tonight]. They also know that some of the players we may be counting on playing [in the autumn] are not with us so it is a great opportunity for others.

"I think they are going to be expecting us to give the same level of performance that I think we have given over the past months. Whether that will lead to victories or not you never know, but I certainly confident that whoever plays [against Brazil] will, a) be desperate to show they can do well and, b) know there are shirts up for grabs."

"What better opportunity really for you to shown you can count on me and 'I'm the player you should be looking at' than to go out at the Maracana against Brazil and play well. But the fact is after we played Brazil in February and won at Wembley it seemed everyone was predicting wonderful things and then we go to Montenegro and don't play so well and suddenly we are back again to square one."

Lampard said that the "pressure was getting carried away with itself" after the result against Ireland and there was also a reminder for the Lineker generation that they had problems beating the Irish. England have not beaten them since 1985.

He said: "I watched very good players – Lineker and all [fail to beat Ireland]. Brazil is a game for us to show we can put on a performance in a real showpiece game against one of the big nations and show we want to be back here next year [for the World Cup finals].

"An England team never wants to not qualify for a major tournament, and one of the worst, probably the worst, moment of my career was not qualifying [for Euro 2008]. We know there is work to be done to get there whatever group you go into and it is up to us to do that."

general electionThis quiz matches undecided voters with the best party for them
Arts and Entertainment
Keira Knightley and Matthew Macfadyen starred in the big screen adaptation of Austen's novel in 2005
tvStar says studios are forcing actors to get buff for period roles
Prince William and his wife Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge show their newly-born daughter, their second child, to the media outside the Lindo Wing at St Mary's Hospital in central London, on 2 May 2015.
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living
Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

Homeless people keep mobile phones

A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before