Roy Hodgson refuses to dub England's match with Montenegro a 'group decider'


Roy Hodgson is refusing to bill Tuesday's clash with Montenegro as a group decider.

England head into the game in good heart after thrashing San Marino, but still two points adrift of the eastern Europeans following their narrow win in Moldova last night.

With Ukraine securing an unexpected victory in Poland, Group H has now taken on a lop-sided look, with a six point gap opening up between second-placed England and the rest.

It means victory in Podgorica for either side would leave them in a strong position to claim the single automatic qualification spot for next year's World Cup in Brazil.

But Hodgson does not view the situation in quite such simplistic terms.

As Ukraine are all but guaranteed six points from two matches against San Marino, and still have England to face on home soil, the Euro 2012 co-hosts are remain clear dangers to the Three Lions hopes.

"I know Ukraine had a bad start but they are a good team," said Hodgson.

"I would certainly put them up there as one of the serious rivals, especially on the basis of what we saw in the Euros and what they did when they came to Wembley.

"I always thought it was going to be a bit of a dog fight between some of these teams.

"Montenegro have stolen a march but I don't really dismiss the others."

Juventus striker Mirko Vucinic scored the winner for Montenegro last night.

Hodgson will hardly need telling that Vucinic will present more of a threat to his side than San Marino managed last night.

On home soil they are strong proposition, as was proved during a qualification game for Euro 2012 when they roared back from two goals down to claim a 2-2 draw against England in front of 12,500 passionate fans.

"Whatever the result in Moldova it would have still been a big game for us on Tuesday," said Hodgson.

"Montenegro are one of our serious rivals for the top spot and we must do our best to get a win there."

What Hodgson must be delighted about is having some selection posers to deal with.

No game against San Marino is going to unearth a star of the future.

Yet England approached last night's dismantling of the world's worst team with far more relish than they managed in the reverse fixture.

The speed and fluidity of their movement was perfect for such limited opponents, allowing them to rack up the goals such an obvious imbalance in abilities deserved.

Kyle Walker was amongst those singled out for praise by Hodgson.

But two-goal Jermain Defoe and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain were also worthy of mentions as two of the players not previously thought likely to figure against Montenegro.

"Yes, absolutely," said Hodgson, when asked whether he now had a selection headache.

"It's important when you get a chance to play for England, regardless of the opposition, the manager's faith in you is justified.

"A young lad like Kyle Walker must have come off the field pretty happy because he did what he had to do and what was expected of him.

"We are not stupid. We realise it was San Marino, not Brazil. But I don't think there is much more you can do other than pass the ball properly or show good movement and application."

The only downside was the confirmation Theo Walcott would be returning home today for treatment on the groin strain he sustained in Thursday's training session.

In addition, Gary Cahill will not be joining up as he has failed to shake off a knee problem.


Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
The Ridiculous Six has been produced by Adam Sandler, who also stars in it
filmNew controversy after nine Native American actors walked off set
Ed Miliband, Nick Clegg and David Cameron appeal to the audience during the Question Time special
Danny Jones was in the Wales squad for the 2013 World Cup
rugby leagueKeighley Cougars half-back was taken off after just four minutes
Life and Style
The original ZX Spectrum was simple to plug into your TV and get playing on
techThirty years on, the ZX Spectrum is back, after a fashion
Tiger Woods and Lindsey Vonn are breaking up after nearly three years together
peopleFormer couple announce separation in posts on their websites
Life and Style
Google celebrates Bartolomeo Cristofori's 360th birthday
techGoogle Doodle to the rescue
Arts and Entertainment
Haunted looks: Matthew Macfadyen and Timothy Spall star in ‘The Enfield Haunting’
tvThe Enfield Haunting, TV review
The Mattehorn stands reflected in Leisee lake near Sunnegga station on June 30, 2013 near Zermatt, Switzerland
Michelle Dockery plays Lady Mary in Downton Abbey
peopleBut who comes top of the wish list?
Miriam Gonzalez Durantez, right, with Lib Dem candidate Jane Dodds in Newtown, Powys, as part of her tour in support of the party’s female candidates
general electionNick Clegg's wife has impressed during the campaign
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
Russell Brand's interview with Ed Miliband has got everyone talking about The Trews

Everyone is talking about The Trews

Russell Brand's 'true news' videos attract millions of viewers. But today's 'Milibrand' interview introduced his resolutely amateurish style to a whole new crowd
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