Roy Hodgson has responded to the prospect of facing 20,000 Poland fans at Wembley on Tuesday by claiming that he doesn’t fear qualification failure if the fans get behind the side like they have done before.
England go into their final World Cup qualification game knowing a win would book their place in next year’s tournament in Brazil, although anything less would likely mean they would need to qualify via the play-offs, with Ukraine expected to win against San Marino.
The 4-1 victory over Montenegro on Friday at least guaranteed them a second chance should they fail to beat Poland, but Hodgson is determined to emerge victorious to avoid the dreaded two-legged play-offs.
"As far as I'm concerned I still feel the focus is on this as a game we want to win," Hodgson said.
"I'm not thinking of the play-offs.
"I don't think we shall be very satisfied if we don't win. We know we've got the play-offs but I don't think that will affect the attitude of the players. We're a good team, we're at home and we'll want to win."
But the prospect of facing an increased number of away fans has not rattled Hodgson, although he does admit that it will probably boost the visitors with so many of their own fans at an away match.
As reported in The Independent today, the Football Association has given Polish fans a larger allocation than usual, due to the governing body handing Polish fans an additional 10,000 tickets on top of the original 8,000, and another 2,000 expected to have secured tickets in the areas designated for home fans.
"I presume they would rather play in front of 18,000 than hardly any at all like we've had to do sometimes away from home and Montenegro had to do the other day,” Hodgson explained, “but there are a lot of Polish people living in this country and I understand the FA was virtually forced into this situation because of concerns over safety problems with the infiltration of Polish fans into the English fans.
"Our players are pretty used to playing in matches where the opponents have a large number of fans, but I think 65-70,000 versus 20,000 is a pretty good margin for us and if our fans get behind us like they've done before I don't fear that."
An FA statement explaining the decision read: “With high demand for tickets from the large Polish community in England, the FA took the decision, based on safety grounds, to ensure Polish fans were allocated space in a specific area of the ground, rather than attempting to buy tickets in home areas.
The Three Lions’ captain Steven Gerrard echoed Hodgson’s comment, claiming that they would be going all out to win to make sure the play-offs don’t become an event put on their calendar.
"We want to seize this opportunity. We want to win,” said Gerrard.
"We'll have 90,000, a full house at Wembley. It's a huge game on the back of a huge performance a couple of nights ago, and we're ready to go."
With the match demonstrating England's biggest challenge of the 2014 campaign to date, the situation is rather different for the Poles, as they cannot qualify for the play-offs following their defeat to Ukraine on Friday night.
"I think Poland's tactics will be very similar to Montenegro," Gerrard continued. "They will want to defend well and make it difficult so we will have to show patience.
"But with the attacking players we've got it's only a matter of time before the breakthrough comes. We've got that confidence."Reuse content