Thursday, June 14, 2012

Hodgson: Fatigue concerns not exclusive to Gerrard and Parker

England manager Roy Hodgson has insisted that his concerns about fatigue are not exclusive to Steven Gerrard and Scott Parker as his side prepares for its second Group D match against Sweden on Friday.

The workload put upon midfield duo Gerrard and Parker - both aged above 30 - has increased in light of injuries to Frank Lampard, Jack Wilshere and Gareth Barry, with inexperienced replacements Phil Jones and Jordan Henderson providing backup.

Gerrard had some minor problems in England’s pre-tournament friendly matches and Parker was unable to complete the Three Lions' first group game against France after suffering from cramp.

But despite being two of the eldest players in his team, Hodgson insists he has no specific qualms about the fitness of his key midfield pair, believing that the heat in Ukraine will inevitably take its toll on squad members of all ages.

"Scott's 31 and Steven 32, we're not talking about old players," Hodgson told BBC Radio 5 Live.

"Age doesn't bother me, obviously when you go into the third game you are going to be concerned for all your players, not just Steven Gerrard and Scott Parker.

"You're going to be concerned for them all whatever age they are because three games played in Ukraine in heat takes it out of everybody.

"But we have the players I think in the squad to step up to the plate and I'm pretty sure that first of all these players will be wanting to play all the games and they'll be working very hard as they've done after this France game to make certain they recover and are ready to go again."

England will be looking to take a big step towards progressing to the next round of the tournament after its 1-1 draw with France in the opening fixture.

Sweden was defeated by hosts Ukraine, despite taking the lead through Zlatan Ibrahimovic, and will be keen to put its first points on the board in the tournament.

Hodgson does not envisage making major changes ahead of the clash with the Scandinavian side.

"As yet we haven't actually picked the team of course and I am certainly not prepared to say at this stage whether there will be changes or no changes," he continued.

"But there won't be wholesale changes, that's for certain because we don't have any injury problems and the players who did well against France are all hoping to get picked to play again."

Hodgson identified Ibrahimovic as a world class striker but also insisted that his side has a player of the same quality in the form of the suspended Wayne Rooney.

"When you talk about Sweden you talk a lot about Ibrahimovic and how important he is for them and how he can decide a game, how his individual ability and the fact he is a world class player can make an enormous difference, especially to a team which is well organized and hard-working like the Swedish team is," Hodgson explained.

"He [Rooney] is a world class player and there's no doubt that when we get him on the field we'll be a much stronger and more potent attacking force than we are when he's not playing."

Republic of Ireland can do more than just defend, insists Del Bosque

Spain coach Vicente del Bosque has dismissed the suggestion that the Republic of Ireland is incapable of hurting his side in an attacking capacity in Thursday's Group C clash in Gdansk.

Many pundits believe that Giovanni Trapattoni will send his troops out with sole intention of frustrating the reigning world and European champions in the hope of securing the point which would keep their Euro 2012 hopes alive.

That is not a view shared by Del Bosque, however, who argues that the Irish have several players capable of causing La Roja problems at the back.

"I am worried about every aspect of our opponents," the former Real Madrid coach told reporters in his pre-game press conference. "Ireland have more than just one threat.

"They have tall, strong players and are dangerous on the wings. Their attackers also offer a lot."

The last time the two nations met in a major tournament, at the 2002 World Cup, Spain only managed to prevail on penalties and Del Bosque is anticipating another gruelling encounter.

"They are a team that always competes well," he argued. "If we look at past meetings, we have never had a clear victory over Ireland.

"We are going to have difficulties in this game as in any other but we hope to be able to combat those difficulties."

Spain's clashes with Ireland, which was beaten 3-1 by Croatia in its tournament opener, will kick off at 2:45 p.m. ET.

Podolski: I have nothing to prove to Wenger

Lukas Podolski has revealed that while he does not feel the need to impress Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger during Euro 2012, the attacker is keen to show his new club's fans what he can do.

The Germany international confirmed at the end of April that he would be leaving his native Koln for north London this summer.

The 27-year-old is determined to prove a big hit at the Emirates Stadium but insists the fact that Wenger was in the stands during die Mannschaft's 2-1 victory over Netherlands on Wednesday night commentating on the Group B clash for French television did not put any extra pressure on his shoulders.

"I don't think I have anything to prove to Arsene Wenger," Podolski told "He has seen me play several times and knows what I can do.

"I think it is clear that my transfer was no accident and, of course, I'm very glad I signed with Arsenal.

"In fact, what has really pleased me is that Arsenal fans can watch me play in a tournament like this and realize what I'm capable of at the highest level. Very soon I will also show that in London."

Podolski will not link up with the Gunners until next month but he revealed that he is already friendly with one of his new team-mates: Poland goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny.

"We have exchanged text messages during the Euros to wish each other good luck," the former Bayern Munich man explained. "We have a very good relationship."

Podolski's next appearance for Germany should come against Denmark in Lviv on June 17.

Harry Redknapp fired as Tottenham manager

Harry Redknapp has been fired from his post as Tottenham manager, the club has confirmed. understands that the decision follows the irreconcilable breakdown of his relationship with chairman Daniel Levy.

A divorce became imminent in a meeting on Wednesday with Redknapp and Paul Stretford, the agent appointed to negotiate a new contract for the 65-year-old, who had a year to run on his existing deal.

The boss' departure is likely to be explained as a mutual agreement between both parties but, ultimately, the decision was made by Levy after the former Portsmouth boss made it clear he felt his time was up but refused to resign.

"This is not a decision the board and I have taken lightly," Levy stated on the club's official website. "Harry arrived at the club at a time when his experience and approach was exactly what was needed. This decision in no way detracts from the excellent work Harry has done during his time with the club and I should like to thank him for his achievements and contribution.

"Harry will always be welcome at the Lane

Redknapp added: "I have thoroughly enjoyed my time at Spurs and am proud of my achievements. I have had a fantastic four years with the club - at times the football has been breathtaking.

"I am sad to be leaving but wish to thank the players, staff and fans for their terrific support during my time there.

Levy had made it clear that Redknapp would not be offered the three or four-year contract that he wanted after holding the manager responsible for Spurs' failure to achieve a place in next season's Champions League having thrown away a 10-point lead over rival Arsenal.

The hierarchy at White Hart Lane felt that Redknapp had been distracted by speculation linking him with the England job and concerns were raised about his match preparation, training and tactics.

Redknapp, who was appointed Spurs manager when the Londoners were bottom of the table in October 2008, took the club to two fourth-placed finishes in three full seasons but had a prickly relationship with Levy throughout his time at White Hart Lane.

Wigan manager Roberto Martinez and Everton boss David Moyes are expected to be the leading candidates to replace Redknapp. Brendan Rodgers, the new Liverpool manager, was previously the club's first choice candidate before he was appointed to the Anfield hotseat.

Redknapp was forced to deny rumors on Tuesday that he had quit but the decision was made for him by Levy, who is thought to have been particularly angered by Redknapp's public maneuvering for a new deal.

He had suggested that players would be unsettled if he was not offered a longer deal, having previously claimed that the squad would not be affected by speculation linking him with the England position.