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Young lions draw Hodgson's praise

Updated: 2014-03-07 08:22
By Agence France-Presse in London ( China Daily)

Young lions draw Hodgson's praise
England manager Roy Hodgson attends a media conference at a hotel in Watford, England March 4, 2014. England are due to play an international friendly soccer match against Denmark at Wembley Stadium on Wednesday.  [Photo/Agencies]

England manager Roy Hodgson drew encouragement from his younger players' performances after seeing his side edge Denmark 1-0 in its final game before he selects his World Cup squad.

Hodgson handed a debut to 18-year-old Southampton left-back Luke Shaw and saw 19-year-old Liverpool winger Raheem Sterling named man of the match in Wednesday's friendly at Wembley Stadium.

Adam Lallana, 25, and 23-year-old Danny Welbeck also impressed after coming on in the second half, with the former teeing up 24-year-old Liverpool striker Daniel Sturridge to head home the 82nd-minute winner.

England finished the game with six players aged 25 or under on the pitch and Hodgson believes that their displays against an obdurate Denmark side augur well for the World Cup in Brazil.

"You couldn't get me to say anything negative about any of the young players on show today; I thought they performed very well," he said.

"At one stage we only had Gary Cahill, Joe Hart, Glen Johnson and Steven Gerrard, who would consider themselves seniors. The others were finding their way and yet we still didn't give Denmark a sniff at our goal.

"That's a positive thing. I wanted the young players to have a chance to get out there and play at Wembley, and I'm sure Shaw and Lallana will go back to Southampton feeling very positive."

One player who did not feature was Frank Lampard, but Hodgson dismissed suggestions that either he or his Chelsea teammate Ashley Cole, who gave way for Shaw at halftime, had slipped down the pecking order.

Asked if Lampard's position in the squad was vulnerable, Hodgson replied: "No. No more vulnerable than anybody else.

"Frank will have to accept (not playing), in the same way that I didn't play Michael Carrick either.

"I played Steven Gerrard the entire game. Had I wished to spare Gerrard in some way, then of course Lampard and Carrick would have been the obvious choices.

"As far as I'm concerned, Lampard and Ashley Cole are two people who are still very much in the reckoning for a place and I'll have to make a decision one day."

Arsenal midfielder Jack Wilshere gave England an early moment of alarm when he collapsed in apparent agony after a challenge with Denmark captain Daniel Agger, but Hodgson said he appeared to have escaped serious harm.

"I was a bit concerned when he went down. I It was a 50-50 and they both went for it," Hodgson said.

"I hoped it was a bruise rather than anything more serious, and it was. I'm hoping when he goes back to Arsenal tomorrow he'll be fine."

Wilshere's Arsenal teammate Nicklas Bendtner endured an unrewarding evening at the tip of the Denmark attack and coach Morten Olsen warned him he will have to leave north London if he is to continue to spearhead the team in their Euro 2016 qualifiers.

"He's not performing enough. Of course he's not playing (for Arsenal), but if he's not finding a club and playing, we cannot use him," Olsen said.

"That's not enough, we have to use other players. But I'm hopeful he'll find a new club in the summer.

"We saw it at the European Championship in 2012, when he was one of the best strikers, but he has to play every weekend.

"With his big body, he has to be in a very good physical condition, otherwise you saw the performance today. It's not enough."

Olsen also had jocular words of encouragement for England, which will face Italy, Uruguay and Costa Rica at the World Cup.

He concluded his media conference by saying: "I wish you very good luck. You need it!"