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Hodgson unfazed by ageing midfield

14 June 2012 04:00

England manager Roy Hodgson insists that his concerns about fatigue are not exclusive to Steven Gerrard and Scott Parker.

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 back-up.

Gerrard had some minor problems in England's pre-Euro 2012 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 said he had 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 ahead of his side's Group D match against Sweden on Friday.

"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.

"Certainly Sweden have players considerably older than our team and I think I heard that we are the third youngest squad in the tournament.

"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 their 1-1 draw with France in the opening fixture.

Sweden were defeated by hosts Ukraine, despite taking the lead through Zlatan Ibrahimovic, and will be keen to put their first points on the board in order to give themselves a chance of reaching the quarter-finals.

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 said.

"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 said that his side have 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 organised and hard-working like the Swedish team is," Hodgson said.

"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.

"But his training's been excellent and his attitude around the place has also been excellent. He's been very, very supportive of the young players so he just needs now to hang on for another couple of days.

"He needs to keep helping us out in the way that he's been doing so because his chance will come soon and he's desperate of course that we go far in the tournament because he wants to play more than one game."

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