Roy Hodgson wary of angering Manchester United manager Alex Ferguson

England manager will take caution with United players

Roy Hodgson intends to treat his Manchester United contingent with kid gloves in tonight's England friendly with Brazil.

In seven days' time, Hodgson knows United will be facing Real Madrid in the first leg of their Champions League knock-out stage meeting.

And Hodgson knows Sir Alex Ferguson would not thank him if Wayne Rooney, Danny Welbeck, Tom Cleverley or Chris Smalling returned to Old Trafford carrying an injury.

"It doesn't matter, just keep them playing," laughed Steven Gerrard.

But Hodgson had a point to make.

"I am aware that Manchester United are playing an important Champions League game," he said.

"I haven't spoken to Sir Alex Ferguson but I don't need to.

"I was a club manager myself and it's pretty obvious Alex would like me to look after his players.

"I appreciate the way these top class managers have made sure we have full access to the players for the qualifying games.

"It's up to me to keep in mind what's going on in their heads.

"This is a friendly, a very important one, and we want to win it.

"But I don't want to do that at the expense of players missing important games and their managers being reluctant to release them in future."

It means no United player will be required to complete the full 90 minutes in what could be the defining year of Hodgson's career given the public expectation is that England secure a place at the next World Cup.

And after nine months and 12 games in the job and the use of an incredible 44 players, Hodgson believes he is ready.

"I've done my casting around," he said.

"I am confident now I know the players.

"It's been important for me to give people the chance to show what they can do, to have a few days working with them and learning about them.

"But I would be very surprised if we'll use 44 players this year.

"Maybe (it is a big year) but I can't think in those terms.

"There have been quite a few years, most of my 38 as a manager, where I've thought being success or failure that particular year will have an effect on the way I'm viewed.

"I was aware of the huge responsibility when I took on the job.

"The only thing I can do is make certain I take my job seriously, do the best I can and ensure the team is well prepared. Then I hope I will get the results."

PA

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