World Cup 2014: Roy Hodgson rallies to the defence of England players after Roy Keane blast

Manager insists Phil Jones and Chris Smalling have not let him down as Portugal training camp begins

vale do lobo

Roy Hodgson has defended his players Phil Jones and Chris Smalling against the latest onslaught from Roy Keane, saying that he and his England squad will be impervious to criticism as they begin their preparations for the World Cup finals this week.

Hodgson and the Football Association opened up their training camp at Vale Do Lobo on the Algarve, with an inaugural training session designed, in part, to replicate something like the conditions the players will face when they come up against Italy in Manaus in their first game at the tournament on 14 June.

But it was Jones and Smalling whom the England manager defended after criticism from Keane, who recently offered withering verdicts on the Manchester United pair in his capacity as an ITV pundit. Keane said that having watched the two this season he considered they had "gone backwards" in their progress. He said of Jones: "Every time I see him, he is getting carried off. He's got to toughen up."

Jones, still nursing a shoulder injury, trained separately from the rest of the squad. The only other player outside the group was John Stones, one of the two stand-by players who have travelled with the squad, who twisted a knee earlier in the week. Jones is still on schedule to be fit by the time England travel to Miami a week on Sunday and Stones is there as his understudy.

Hodgson said: "I am very rarely taken aback by things people say and rarely moved or disturbed by it. I work on the simple basis that everyone has an opinion. If you are a TV pundit you are required to give your opinion and I don't expect everyone's opinions to fall in with mine. If you say to me, has it been a great year for Manchester United and have Phil Jones and Smalling starred? Of course they haven't because they have used so many players and their back line has changed virtually every week to week.

"But as far as I am concerned they are England players because they have been England players through my two years and any games in particular that Smalling has played he has certainly never let me down. I don't think he's ever let the nation down whether he's played centre-back or right-back."

The England manager's sessions this week have been carried out in conjunction with the FA's head of performance Dave Reddin, who has worked in the past on the staff for the England rugby team and Team GB at London 2012. Reddin has used sports scientists from Loughborough University to try to recreate hot conditions – chiefly by insisting the players wear more layers of clothing in training than they ordinarily would.

Roy Hodgson has stood by the Manchester United defensive duo (Getty) Roy Hodgson has stood by the Manchester United defensive duo (Getty)
Hodgson said the tests would allow the sports scientists to measure how his players react to the discomfort of high temperatures. "They went through the session with sweat pads on and they are being analysed. It is part of our process which Dave and his team have formed, learning to be comfortable being uncomfortable.

"So we started off on the first day just with them wearing the extra gear for the warm-ups. Then we went to the warm-up and maybe through part of the passing exercises wearing it, then maybe even halfway through my session. But the interesting thing was when the word came to take their tracksuits off there weren't too many who kept them on. They were very quick to whip them off so it is obviously working."

Cesare Prandelli's Italy squad were photographed coming out of saunas at their base in Coverciano near Florence, perhaps with the same thing in mind. The England squad were introduced on Tuesday night to acclaimed psychiatrist Steve Peters, who has worked at Liverpool under Brendan Rodgers.

Hodgson said: "He [Peters] said, 'This is me, what I've done, my career, and this is what I might be capable of doing to help'. And the players were very attentive and listened. He is an entertaining man. He just tells you all the things he's done in life. It's quite amazing. I don't know how old he is but to do all the things he's done in life he must be about 150 at least."

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Abuse - and the hell that came afterwards

Abuse - and the hell that follows

James Rhodes on the extraordinary legal battle to publish his memoir
Why we need a 'tranquility map' of England, according to campaigners

It's oh so quiet!

The case for a 'tranquility map' of England
'Timeless fashion': It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it

'Timeless fashion'

It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it
If the West needs a bridge to the 'moderates' inside Isis, maybe we could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive after all

Could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive?

Robert Fisk on the Fountainheads of World Evil in 2011 - and 2015
New exhibition celebrates the evolution of swimwear

Evolution of swimwear

From bathing dresses in the twenties to modern bikinis
Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine