Roy Hodgson takes tour of new England home at St George's
New England manager is taken on whirlwind trip round Burton – then it's back to Premier League
Thursday 10 May 2012
Roy Hodgson yesterday made his first visit to St George's Park, the future home of his England side, as he continues to juggle the last few days of his tenure at West Bromwich with his looming duties as the national manager.
Hodgson officially takes over as England manager on Monday before naming his squad for Euro 2012 on Wednesday. Last week he spent time at Wembley finalising plans for England's preparation for the finals. The squad he settles on will assemble on 21 May, two days after Chelsea play in the Champions League final, and head for a training camp in Spain.
After two friendlies, against Norway and Belgium, D-Day comes on 6 June when the party – Hodgson is also still deciding on his support staff – will fly to Poland. England's first game is against France in Donetsk five days later. The schedule is so tight that Hodgson will not be visiting England's modest training centre in Krakow until he arrives with the squad.
Hodgson will be back at West Bromwich today to resume his club duties for the last game of the Premier League season against Arsenal at The Hawthorns on Sunday. Yesterday he was given a tour of the £100m National Football Centre near Burton, which comes into use later this summer, by Trevor Brooking, one of the quartet who appointed him, and Stuart Pearce, the Under-21 and GB Olympic manager.
The FA expects Hodgson to split his time between St George's and Wembley once he takes up the post. All 24 England sides across the age groups and the women's game will train at the 330-acre site. While Hodgson is expected occasionally to contribute to training or talking to teams below the full squad, football matters at St George's will be run by the FA's technical director, a position for which the governing body has advertised.
Brooking and Alex Horne, the FA's general secretary, are in the process of conducting interviews with half a dozen candidates from across Europe. An appointment is expected by the end of this month. Gareth Southgate, who has been the FA's head of elite development for the last year, has been widely considered favourite for the role, but it is believed the FA may be looking beyond current employees.
This weekend Wembley will stage its 100th football match, the FA Trophy final, on the fifth anniversary of its reopening. After what the chairman of Wembley Stadium, Melvin Benn, described as "early difficulties" in the wake of the £827m, eight-year construction saga, the ground has now hosted 10 million supporters and solved embarrassing problems with the pitch. Recent feedback from England players suggest the surface is now the best it has been in recent times. "We are very happy with where the stadium is," Benn said.
Next year it will host its second Champions League final and, despite the arrival of the Olympic Stadium as a possible rival after this summer's Games, the management of Club Wembley are confident they will lose little to the East End of the capital. "We don't see it as something that will be detrimental to us," Benn said.
Roy's diary: Key dates on road to Euro 2012
13 May Final round of Premier League fixtures. West Bromwich host Arsenal in Roy Hodgson's last game.
14 May Hodgson heads to Wembley for day one proper as manager of England.
16 May Hodgson names his first England squad, his 23 men for Euro 2012, at Wembley.
21 May England squad assemble in London and travel to Spain for a training camp.
26 May England take on Norway in Oslo in their penultimate friendly. The players will then be given a couple of days off.
29 May Squad returns to training.
2 June Wembley hosts the final warm-up friendly against Belgium.
6 June Hodgson, his back-room staff and players fly to Krakow, their base for at least the group stages. The first game is against France on 11 June.
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