Hodgson sticks by recalled Jara despite arrest


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The Independent Football

Roy Hodgson, the West Bromwich Albion manager, has included recalled defender Gonzalo Jara in the squad for tonight's Premier League encounter at Newcastle, despite his weekend arrest for alleged driving offences. Jara has been recalled from a loan spell at Brighton, along with midfielder George Thorne and striker Marc-Antoine Fortuné from Portsmouth and Doncaster respectively.

Jara was detained when police stopped an Audi Q7 on the south coast on Saturday morning, and he missed Brighton's home game with Burnley because he was in police custody. The The Chile international has been charged with driving while disqualified and driving without insurance, and bailed to appear before Brighton magistrates on 20 January.

Hodgson, who confirmed that Jara will be part of his squad at St James' Park, said: "We are obviously not happy about the situation and I'm pretty sure he is unhappy about the situation. At the moment it is being taken care of by the police.

"I think he [Jara] is summoned to appear in court in the new year. Until such time that the court case comes up, and we hear what he is being accused of, and why, the best thing for us is to say as little as possible other than we are disappointed to see he finds himself in this situation."

Hodgson insists that he is relaxed about his own future – his current contract ends next summer – and he is reluctant to become involved in speculation linking him with the England head coach's role when Fabio Capello stands down next summer.

"There is a long way to go between now and the summer. We will see how things pan out but neither I nor the club have got any concerns in that respect [about the contract]," he said. "We will see how things go and I prefer to concentrate on the games and trying to get us onto safer ground rather than worrying about my own personal situation."

When asked about speculation linking him with the England role, Hodgson added: "I don't know about that. I think speculation about those things is dangerous both for the individual and the country. The Football Association should be allowed to do their research and their work in relative peace and quiet. Most important of all, it's important that England do well in the 2012 Championships.

"Our focus should be on England doing well in 2012 and maybe we should spend a bit less time speculating about who is going to be there [as head coach] from 2012 onwards."

Hodgson has challenged his players to maintain the encouraging form shown in Saturday's 2-1 win at Blackburn: "I was happy to win that game just as I was disappointed to lose the one previous against Wigan, but in both games we played quite well. If we can keep that going, hopefully we will have high hopes of finishing the season well."

West Bromwich will have to make do without midfielder James Morrison for the game at Newcastle. The Scotland international suffered a hamstring injury during Saturday's 2-1 away victory over Blackburn; Graham Dorrans and Jerome Thomas are in contention to replace him.