'We went behind but we still had belief – our spirit shone out'

 

The England manager Roy Hodgson revealed last night that he would be satisfied with a draw in the nation's final Group D game – even though that might line up a clash with world champions Spain next Saturday.

Hodgson said after substitute Theo Walcott had won the match for him against Sweden: "I'm happy, it's a positive result – a draw or win would see us through the group. I'd be more than satisfied with that."

But the manager also declared that Wayne Rooney would definitely be selected to face Oleh Blokhin's side on Tuesday in Donetsk.

"I welcome those kind of selection problems," said Hodgson. "I was really pleased with the performance of the front players.

"But Wayne Rooney is a special player and, frankly, it will be hard to leave him out. I'm afraid you expect him to get back into the team when the suspension is served."

Arsenal's Theo Walcott said that "the monkey is off my back" having finally retured to international form.

Walcott said: "I've always been confident. The season for Arsenal is one of the best I've had considering the numer of games I've had an no injuries." Walcott revealed he had entered this tournament carrying a slight hamstring injury.

Hodgson has appeared to harbour doubts about Walcott's reliability for England but he said of the player: "Of course I believe in him. He is a good player with good qualities I would be lying if I said I knew these players as well as you do.

"I have worked with them for only a month and I am still learning what they are really good at and in what areas we can find improvement.

"But I was delighted with Walcott's performance tonight.

Walcott said his 25-yard effort had not taken a deflection as seems to be the case. "I thought it had which is why my celebration was a little bit odd. But I've seen it again and it didn't. I didn't know I had that sort of [Cristiano] Ronaldo dip in me. So I should try it more often."

Walcott also said that he had "surprised myself" and that the three goals he scored past Jack Butland in the warm up had encouraged him.

Another of Hodgson's goalscorers, Danny Welbeck, also finds competition for places intensifying with Rooney's return and asked if losing his place worried him, he said, "it is football. We all know the quality Wayne possesses. He is a world-class player and it is not up to me to pick the team but the manager. I do play with him well, so that maybe is in my favour

"When we went behind we still had the belief," Welbeck said afterwards, "we stuck together and the team spirit shone through."

Scott Parker admitted afterwards that it was not a perfect performance from England. "It was a mixed game," the Tottenham midfielder said. "We dominated the first half and didn't come out in the second half. They were two sloppy goals, but we dug in and showed big character."

Walcott was predictably pleased with his contribution. "I wouldn't say I was the game-changer," he said. "It's always nice to come off the bench and show what you can do. Obviously I was disappointed not to play but I've been training hard. It's not just about the starting line-up it's about the players who came off the bench, it's a whole squad thing, and we're a family and we're all together and it's a great result. It means a lot to me and hopefully there's more to come from me."

Walcott pointed to an attacking improvement. "After the first game we wanted to pick it up a bit more offensively but if you score three goals that's the main thing," he said. "The guys worked hard and we've got a long way back home now.

"We've got to get back to Poland, sit down, and get our recovery done," Welbeck said, "and then attention turns to Ukraine. We'll get our analysis sorted and go from there."

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