Hodgson "happy with players that remain"

England manager Roy Hodgson said it was a "great blow" to lose players through injury for his side's opening World Cup qualifier against Moldova in Chisinau on Friday.

However, despite being without strikers Wayne Rooney and Andy Carroll, defender Ashley Cole and winger Adam Johnson, Hodgson told reporters he was happy with the options available.

"It is a great blow to lose players you have selected but we chose a large squad to cope with that," he said.

"I'm still happy with the players that remain with us and we certainly have more than the 11 we need to play the game."

Moldova are 138 places behind third-placed England in the FIFA world rankings although Hodgson said there was no room for complacency against a defensively-minded side who only lost 1-0 to the Netherlands home and away in Euro 2012 qualifying.

"You need to prepare for a team that's going to be very well organised, with a well disciplined defence who work very hard to stop you from scoring," said Hodgson, who took over as England coach a few weeks before the Euro 2012 finals.

"We're aware of that and are also aware that they are actually, from the games we've studied, a team that are capable of playing very well and causing problems, so we won't underestimate them," he added.

Hodgson also brushed off concerns about the Zimbru stadium pitch after Moldova's assistant manager Ion Testemitanu said earlier this week that it may not be up to standard.

"I'm pretty sure that I have a very experienced group of players and they'll have played on many pitches, and I really don't envisage any particular problems there, but obviously after tonight's training session we'll know a little bit more about it," said Hodgson who has not seen the surface.


Captain Steven Gerrard said while England needed a miracle to win the World Cup it was important to get their Group H campaign off to a strong start against Moldova and then Ukraine, who they beat 1-0 at Euro 2012, on Tuesday at Wembley.

"It [winning] breeds confidence for the team and the squad, the idea this week is to try and get six points but I think the important thing is that we focus on Moldova first.

"We're confident we've got the players, even with the injuries that we've got, that we can get the three points."

Gerrard said England are not among the favourites to win the World Cup in Brazil, with no European team ever having won the trophy in South America, but he had not given up hope.

"You never stop believing in football. Miracles do happen," he was quoted as saying by British media.

"When I speak I'm realistic and honest. At the moment, we're not one of the favourites to win the World Cup. That doesn't mean you stop believing, working hard to improve and to try to learn from the mistakes you've made at previous tournaments.

"This team has every chance to improve and get better in the next few years, with players coming through and those players with experience. We have to have that faith and keep believing."