KEIR RADNEDGE in SAINT-ETIENNE: Manager Roy Hodgson has cautioned England’s next Euro 2016 opponents – whoever they may be – that they could catch the backlash from his attacking stars’ failure to live up to the billing thus far.
At various times during England’s ultimately disappointing goalless draw against Slovakia in Group B in Saint-Etienne Hodgson called on the services of Daniel Sturridge, Jamie Vardy, Harry Kane and Wayne Rooney.
But for all their total of 65 Premier League goals this past term they drew a blank against a defence anchored around a centre-back in Martin Skrtel who has been judged surplus to requirements at Liverpool.
Hodgson had expected rather more or he would not have rung the changes as he did in the Stade Geoffroy-Guichard for a game which ended with England having slipped from Group B top spot to runners-up slot.
He said: “It’s very disappointing that once again we had all the play and a lot of opportunities and not been able to score once. But it will come because we have players who can score goals.
“We fully deserved to win and the time will come when we will take those chances and some team will be on the end of that fairly soon.
“At least we are in the knockout stage which is what we wanted and now we have to make sure that we don’t just control the game for long periods but score goals as well.”
Hodgson, approaching the knockout stage where England’s hopes have ended in shootout gloom so many times, said that his players practised penalties every day.
However he was not resigned to fate repeating itself.
Hodgson said: “We’ll be happy to play anyone else now and we know it will be a tough game but whoever plays us might also find they have a tough game on their hands.
“As for penalties, let’s wait and see. We’re not doomed to penalties and we’re not doomed not to score goals. I believe we will if the team continue playing with the intensity we’ve shown in these games.
“I believe we are capable of winning in normal time.”
While Hodgson was unhappy with the draw, Slovak manager Jan Kozak was delighted. He excused his cautious tactics on the grounds of a lack of attacking quality.
Kozak said: “We don’t have the players to play constructive football so it’s not our style of play to attack. I know it’s not nice to watch but if we get through to the last 16 we’ll be really happy.”