World Cup 2014: Roy Hodgson admits England are underdogs but uses example of Greece in 2004 and Denmark in 1992 to inspire shock victory

Manager says Brazil, Argentina and Spain are the main contenders

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The Independent Online

Roy Hodgson will use the shock European Championship triumphs of Greece and Denmark as evidence England should not give up on their World Cup dream.

Whilst Hodgson has admitted his team will not be one of the favourites in Brazil next year, neither were Greece at Euro 2004, nor Denmark 12 years earlier when they were only parachuted into the tournament when Yugoslavia were told they could not compete.

Both ended up lifting the trophy.

So, although the odds are against England becoming the first European team to win the greatest prize in the game on the American side of the Atlantic, that does not mean it is impossible.

"It's pretty obvious we're not favourites," said Hodgson.

"The main contenders are Brazil, Argentina, Spain and Germany I guess.

"Is it possible for a European team to win in Brazil? They haven't done yet but anything is possible isn't it?

"No one thought Greece would win the Euros in Portugal or for Denmark to get their players off the beach in 92, but they did.

"Every year it gets that little bit harder to look beyond the favourites but I am pretty sure all the European teams will be hoping to become the first one to reverse the trend.

"We will go with the same attitude."

England's slide down the rankings means they will not be seeded for December's draw, raising the potential for a pairing with hosts Brazil, Argentina or another of the tournament heavyweights.

In addition, they could find themselves pitted against a dangerous non seed from another confederation, such as Africa, or the CONCACAF region, from which Mexico have been condemned to a play-off against New Zealand in order to cement their place.

Yet England will have a puncher's chance as long as Wayne Rooney maintains his current form.

The Manchester United man has not impressed at a major tournament since he was an 18-year-old at Euro 2004.

He looks in the mood to end that sorry statistic though, taking his tally to nine goals from his last 10 internationals with the opener against Poland on Tuesday.

If he continues at that rate, he will be closing in on the 11 goals required to match Sir Bobby Charlton's all-time record before England even reach Brazil.

"His performances recently have been crowning glories," said Hodgson.

"They have not just been good performances, they have been decisive because of his goals.

"He is very settled at the moment. He has always been a big fan of playing for England. When he gets the chance to play his motivation is very high.

"He has started well for Manchester United and that bodes well for us.

"Of course, we are not picking a team to play in Brazil on October and a lot of things can happen.

"But at the moment, it is looking very good."

PA

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