Roy Hodgson accepts England match against Ukraine will be decisive

 

England boss Roy Hodgson accepts his side will still need to claim a positive result from their final game against Ukraine no matter what happens against Sweden in Kiev.

Ukraine's victory over Sweden following England's draw with France on Monday means, at the very least, Hodgson's men will need a draw against the co-hosts and possibly might have to beat them when they return to the Donbass Arena next Tuesday.

"What we know now is that, irrespective of tomorrow's result, we are going to need a result against the Ukraine," Hodgson told BBC Radio Five Live.

"It's really bought the third game into focus for everybody in the group. A different result might have lessened that."

Much will depend upon how England fare against the Swedes tomorrow.

Once again the Three Lions will be without star striker Wayne Rooney, who serves the final game of his two-match suspension.

That dismissal in Montenegro last October has proved problematic for Hodgson, who believes Rooney has as much influence over England's fortunes as Zlatan Ibrahimovic has on Sweden.

"When you talk about Sweden, you talk about Zlatan Ibrahimovic and how important he is for them - how he can decide a game," said Hodgson.

"Well, we have got one of those players in our squad. His name is Wayne Rooney."

The Manchester United striker was obviously a frustrated spectator on Monday and showed his eagerness to remain involved at the start of training yesterday morning by carrying a bag of balls out onto the practice field.

Hodgson seems to be leaning towards eventually naming Rooney as his vice-captain and he lavished more praise on the 26-year-old as he assessed is overall contribution.

"His training has been excellent and his attitude around the place has also been excellent," he said.

"He's been very, very supportive of the younger players so he just needs now to hang on for another couple of days because his chance will come soon enough.

"He's desperate of course that we go far in the tournament because he wants to play in more than one game."

After a brief reunion with family members yesterday, England were on their travels again this morning as they flew out to Kiev, when Liverpool's Martin Kelly is likely to be their only other absentee as he struggles to recover from a virus.

 

PA

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