England have had an extremely successful Euro 2016 qualifying campaign with six wins out of six, and a win against San Marino will virtually confirm qualification to the tournament proper for the Three Lions
England national team manager Roy Hodgson was happy to divulge the names of three relatively inexperienced players who would start Saturday’s qualifier against San Marino, and confirmed that he would prioritise blooding youngsters to maintaining his side’s 100% record once qualification was officially confirmed.
The former Liverpool manager also had words of praise for 21-year-old centre-back John Stones, who was the subject of intense transfer speculation over the summer with champions Chelsea FC making progressively larger bids to try and prise the young England international away from Goodison Park.
Hodgson will prioritise blooding youngsters over maintaining 100% qualification record
Roy Hodgson addressed the state of the pitch in Serravalle amongst other topics in his pre-match press conference in San Marino ahead of England’s seventh qualification game.
The England coach is quoted by Sky Sports as saying: “I think they’ve done very well (with the playing surface) considering that four or five weeks ago, they’d only just laid the pitch. As long as the pitch is watered tomorrow, it will give a playing surface which is perfectly playable and one must congratulate San Marino on doing such a good job.”
Hodgson also had words of praise for young England centre-half John Stones, who is expected to start the Group E qualifier on Saturday. “Stones has done very well and the way he has handled the transfer speculation has been remarkable,” Hodgson said. “It won’t affect his play. He’s been 100 per cent concentrated, focused and motivated to play since he’s been with us.”
The 68-year-old also added: “If we do qualify either on Saturday or against Switzerland then it’s not necessary that I would put the perfect 10 in front of the opportunity to blood some players in those [final] two games against Estonia and Lithuania. It’s a goal but it’s not the be-all and end-all.”
San Marino manager unhappy with light-hearted Hodgson comments
Meanwhile, San Marino manager Pierangelo Manzaroli has taken exception to some light-hearted comments made by England manager Roy Hodgson, who earlier this summer joked about including some of England’s Ashes cricketers in his squad for the game against the Group E minnows.
Manzaroli expressed his displeasure in his pre-match press conference ahead of Saturday’s game in Serravalle, saying (via Sky Sports): “I know Roy Hodgson well. He’s a very good person and well educated. But when we are in front of the media, with this exposure, you have to be careful what you say.
“We are much smaller than England but we deserve respect like any country. I think it was a bit too much, too heavy, with what he said. It was very strong. Bad.”
With qualification well in their sights, it is difficult to see anything other than an England win from this game, which would then allow manager Roy Hodgson to rest his more experienced players whilst giving an opportunity to the less experienced internationals to showcase their talents.