World Cup 2014: Steven Gerrard challenges Harry Redknapp to name and shame players who avoided England duty
England captain demands answers after allegations about anonymous Tottenham men and reveals Hodgson wants him to stay on
Steven Gerrard has challenged Harry Redknapp to name and shame the players whom the former Tottenham Hotspur manager has alleged tried to pull out of England squads when he was in charge of the club.
In a blunt response to Redknapp’s allegations, made on BBC Five Live, that unnamed Spurs players would plead with their manager to make up excuses to get them out of England duty, Gerrard said that Redknapp had an obligation to name them. Otherwise up to 12 England players from Redknapp’s time in charge of Spurs would be under suspicion.
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The England captain even went as far as saying that he knew that Jermain Defoe was not under suspicion. He said he had spoken to the former Spurs man who was “devastated” at not making the World Cup finals squad.
Speaking together for the first time since England’s elimination was confirmed on Friday, Gerrard said that Roy Hodgson had asked him to stay on as captain of the team. The 34-year-old has asked Hodgson for time to consider his future. Gerrard said he felt “broken” by England’s elimination from the tournament and needed time to decide. On Redknapp, he said: “I tell you what, I’d be interested to find out who those players are. If Harry is making a comment like that, he should name them and embarrass them. No one in this group wants to go home.
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“Should Harry not name them? If he’s not naming them, I can’t answer that. If it’s the case, it’s disgusting. For me, if a player doesn’t want to be, he doesn’t deserve to be here at a World Cup. The comment refers to ‘them’. ‘They’ didn’t want to play for England. Who? Name them? Is it Aaron Lennon, Kyle Walker, Andros Townsend? I don’t know who he means. Five years ago?
“I’ve spoken to Jermain Defoe and he’s devastated [not to be in Brazil]. I can understand why you’ve asked the question, with Harry Redknapp a big coach in the game, but we need names. But it’s not here [in the current squad]. I can guarantee it’s not here.”
Redknapp had said earlier in the day that there were “two or three [Spurs] players who did not want to play for England.” He said: “They would come to me 10 days before the game and say, ‘Gaffer, get me out of that game, I don’t want to play in that game’. That was how it was. I’d say, ‘You’re playing for your country, you should want to play’.
“[The players would say] ‘Nah, my girlfriend is having a baby in four weeks, I don’t want to play’ and that is the truth, so it makes you wonder. And I think it’s only going to get worse. You see the stick the England players get and they come home, they’re earning fantastic money at their clubs, they’re all playing in the Champions League. They think, ‘Do we need the aggro?’ ”
There have been issues with players withdrawing from Under-21 games. In the past Andy Carroll and David Bentley have pulled out of tournaments. Gerrard said: “Well, he should be embarrassed if there’s one player. When you go down into the younger age groups, they’re younger lads. They might not want to be away from their families. But when you’re picked at this level and find any excuse not to be here, you don’t deserve to be here.”
Hodgson said that Redknapp’s remarks “come as a bit of a surprise”. He said: “If you make comments like that, you have to name them. I could name a player with an educated guess, but players? It’s unfair to ask people to look back historically. Let’s see how it will be moving forward. Let’s keep our standards high.”
England travelled to Belo Horizonte today before tomorrow’s final World Cup group game against Costa Rica.
Hodgson said he would give opportunities to the members of his squad who have not played so far. Frank Lampard will captain the side. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain has had a set-back in his recovery from a medial knee ligament injury and will not feature. Leighton Baines has a hamstring injury and is not available. Luke Shaw will start.
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