England v Poland: Roy Hodgson targeting victory at Wembley and direct qualification for the 2014 World Cup

England are guaranteed to finish second if they falter against Poland

Roy Hodgson has insisted England are still fully focused on victory against Poland and will not be relying on the safety net of the World Cup play-offs.

England's 4-1 victory over Montenegro on Friday guaranteed them at least second place in the group, which would mean a play-off berth should they fail to win at Wembley and Ukraine record an expected victory over San Marino.

But both Hodgson and his captain Steven Gerrard were adamant that would have no impact on their approach to the game.

"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."

Gerrard added: "We want to seize this opportunity. We want to win.

"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."

Poland's qualification hopes are over after a 1-0 loss to Ukraine on Friday night, but Gerrard expects them to give England a difficult night.

"I think Poland's tactics will be very similar to Montenegro," he said.

"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."

Much has been made of England's failure to beat Poland in a World Cup qualifier back in 1973, a game in which goalkeeper Jan Tomaszewski frustrated Sir Alf Ramsey's side with an unorthodox performance at Wembley.

Neither that famous encounter nor the subsequent 14 meetings between the nations hold any meaning for Hodgson, though.

"History's important when it comes to not making political mistakes but I don't think it has any relevance in sport whatsoever," Hodgson said.

"Every game's a new game and each Poland team that's played England has been a very different team so as far as we're concerned we'll do our job against the Poland we will face."

Nor is the former Liverpool boss interested in statistics that suggest 96 per cent of England fans believe the team will beat Poland and qualify.

He added: "Unfortunately that doesn't win us the game either.

"It would be nice if we could win the game on polls but unfortunately whether it's 96 per cent, 100 per cent or two per cent who believe we're going to win, it'll be when the referee blows his whistle and when we cross the white line to play the game that counts.

"That's all that matters to us and it's the only thing that we're remotely focused on."

Hodgson kept his team selection to himself ahead of the crucial match.

His only real selection headache concerns the right-back position, which needs filling due to Kyle Walker's suspension.

"I think I'll keep the ideas about the team to myself for the moment, not least of all because the players haven't been informed," Hodgson added.

"I'm not certain they have a clear idea as there's been no functional work done (in training).

"I'm not even certain the players are certain who's going to play at right-back in place of the suspended Kyle Walker."

PA

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

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

Career Services

Day In a Page

Why the cost of parenting has become so expensive

Why the cost of parenting has become so expensive

Today's pre-school child costs £35,000, according to Aviva. And that's but the tip of an iceberg, says DJ Taylor
Fifa corruption: The 161-page dossier that exposes the organisation's dark heart

The 161-page dossier that exposes Fifa's dark heart

How did a group of corrupt officials turn football’s governing body into what was, in essence, a criminal enterprise? Chris Green and David Connett reveal all
Mediterranean migrant crisis: 'If Europe thinks bombing boats will stop smuggling, it will not. We will defend ourselves,' says Tripoli PM

Exclusive interview with Tripoli PM Khalifa al-Ghweil

'If Europe thinks bombing boats will stop smuggling, it will not. We will defend ourselves'
Raymond Chandler's Los Angeles: How the author foretold the Californian water crisis

Raymond Chandler's Los Angeles

How the author foretold the Californian water crisis
Chinese artist who posted funny image of President Xi Jinping facing five years in prison as authorities crackdown on dissent in the arts

Art attack

Chinese artist who posted funny image of President Xi Jinping facing five years in prison
Marc Jacobs is putting Cher in the limelight as the face of his latest campaign

Cher is the new face of Marc Jacobs

Alexander Fury explains why designers are turning to august stars to front their lines
Parents of six-year-old who beat leukaemia plan to climb Ben Nevis for cancer charity

'I'm climbing Ben Nevis for my daughter'

Karen Attwood's young daughter Yasmin beat cancer. Now her family is about to take on a new challenge - scaling Ben Nevis to help other children
10 best wedding gift ideas

It's that time of year again... 10 best wedding gift ideas

Forget that fancy toaster, we've gone off-list to find memorable gifts that will last a lifetime
Paul Scholes column: With the Premier League over for another year, here are my end of season awards

Paul Scholes column

With the Premier League over for another year, here are my end of season awards
Heysel disaster 30th anniversary: Liverpool have seen too much tragedy to forget fateful day in Belgium

Liverpool have seen too much tragedy to forget Heysel

Thirty years ago, 39 fans waiting to watch a European Cup final died as a result of a fatal cocktail of circumstances. Ian Herbert looks at how a club dealt with this tragedy
Amir Khan vs Chris Algieri: Khan’s audition for Floyd Mayweather may turn into a no-win situation, says Frank Warren

Khan’s audition for Mayweather may turn into a no-win situation

The Bolton fighter could be damned if he dazzles and damned if he doesn’t against Algieri, the man last seen being decked six times by Pacquiao, says Frank Warren
Blundering Tony Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

Blundering Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

For Arabs – and for Britons who lost their loved ones in his shambolic war in Iraq – his appointment was an insult, says Robert Fisk
Fifa corruption arrests: All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue

Fifa corruption arrests

All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue, says Ian Herbert
Isis in Syria: The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of President Assad and militant fighters

The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of Assad and Isis

In Syrian Kurdish cantons along the Turkish border, the progressive aims of the 2011 uprising are being enacted despite the war. Patrick Cockburn returns to Amuda
How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields: Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape the US

How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields

Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape to the US