Hodge: England have the momentum

Former Nottingham Forest midfielder Steve Hodge - a member of England's 1986 World Cup squad - tells Luke Nicoli why Fabio Capello's side should be confident going into Sunday's match against Germany

Looking at the two sides on paper, we have the more experienced players and given the performance of both countries in their final group games, England will hope to have the momentum.

I watched Germany’s match against Ghana on Wednesday and although they won, they were put under pressure for long spells. If Ghana had a decent striker on the night, they could have scored a couple of goals, so we can take plenty of positives from that.

I also think Fabio Capello’s side will be buoyed not just by the Slovenia result but also the performance. It was greatly improved from the Algeria game and you could sense the confidence flowing through the players as a result. They will go into the Germany game really believing they can do it.

But as is often the case when it comes to England v Germany, it’s going to be a tight game between two very even teams. Maybe one touch of brilliance will separate the sides and we are all hoping Wayne Rooney will come good and be that man.

Although there has been a lot of talk surrounding his form and fitness, Rooney is still the first name on the team-sheet for me.

The German defenders would take a lot of confidence if they saw his name left off the team sheet, but if the worst-case scenario happens, then the back-up strikers must be ready to take their chance.

At the 1986 World Cup in Mexico, we suffered the loss of Bryan Robson to injury and Ray Wilkins to suspension at the group stage. In stepped Peter Beardsley and myself and I saw it as a chance to really make a name for myself on the highest stage. If it wasn’t for Maradona’s Hand of God, who knows what might have happened…

Four years later the boot was on the other foot as I was dropped for David Platt. In stepped Platty who became one of our stars of Italia 90 – earning a move to Italy in the process.

The World Cup really is a squad game; you are there because the manager rates you as one of the best players in the country in your position – so when you get your chance, you have to make the most of it.

Matthew Upson is the latest player to step up to the plate and I expect him to keep his place against the Germans. Despite his goal, I’m not sure Jermain Defoe will be quite so fortunate.

Knowing the Germans will have a robust defence, I think we could revert to playing Emile Heskey – big and strong – to take some of the knocks for Rooney, or maybe even Peter Crouch.

All will be revealed shortly before kick and then it’s all down to the players.

If we get past this one then there’s every chance we’ll meet a certain Diego Maradona. Haven't we been there before?!

Steve Hodge's book The Man With Maradona’s Shirt is out now. Published by Orion, costing £18.99.

More World Cup stuff: Features * Lists * Interviews

FFT.com: Features * News * Interviews * HomeInteract: Twitter * Facebook * Forum