Montenegro v England: Roy Hodgson unfazed by mind games

 

Montenegro v England, Group H World Cup Qualifier

  • Venue: Podgorica City Stadium
  • Date: Tuesday, 26 March
  • Kick-off: 20:00 GMT

Coverage: Live commentary on BBC Radio 5 live, text commentary on BBC Sport website

England manager Roy Hodgson has backed his players to show the discipline to come through Tuesday's World Cup qualifier with Montenegro.

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Maybe England are more scared of this game than we are

Branko Brnovic Montenegro coach

Montenegro coach Branko Brnovic suggested England are "scared" and face the greater pressure in a match that could see the hosts move five points clear at the top of Group H.

But Hodgson has no concerns about his counterpart's comments.

"It's definitely mind games. I don't have an opinion," Hodgson said.

"We are confident we have good players and we accept responsibility.

"Whatever you say beforehand does not make any difference, it's about what happens after kick-off."

Striker Wayne Rooney was sent off in England's last trip to Montenegro, a 2-2 draw in 2011, earning a ban that kept him out of the start of Euro 2012.

Hodgson will stress the need for his players to keep their heads but trusts them to show control in Podgorica.

He added: "With Wayne his disciplinary record since that has been outstanding. We always do talk about discipline, it comes up quite often.

England's Group H fixtures

26 March: Montenegro (a)

6 September: Moldova (h)

10 September: Ukraine (a)

11 October: Montenegro (h)

15 October: Poland (h)

"I do trust the players and I won't be making a particular point of it because the players are aware of it and don't need it repeating to them."

Brnovic also criticised England's style of play and mocked the possibility of the Football Association organising friendlies for November, when the team that finishes second in the group will face a play-off to qualify for next year's World Cup.

But Hodgson maintains there is nothing unusual about the FA planning ahead.

He said: "I'm not surprised the FA have pencilled in matches because most teams will have pencilled them in for November but I'm not even sure who those matches would be against.

"Our focus is on the end of October when we play Poland at home and we're hoping we'll qualify then and if we haven't we'll try to do that in November."