Hodgson defends Cleverley inclusion

England manager Roy Hodgson has sprung to the defence of Manchester United's Tom Cleverley following criticism of the midfielder.

Cleverley is part of Hodgson's squad for Wednesday's international friendly against Denmark at Wembley, which represents the final game before England's provisional 30-man selection for the FIFA World Cup is announced.

However, an online petition has been set up calling for the 24-year-old to be banned from his country's World Cup squad.

Hodgson believes Cleverley has been unfairly singled out as a scapegoat for United's disappointing season to date, which has seen David Moyes' men fail to contend for the Premier League title.

"He deserves to be in this 30-man group. He's done an awful lot of good," said Hodgson of Cleverley.

"I don't think it's correct people should single out one player for Manchester United's lack of success this season.

"I would like to think that I'm not going to have the England team selected in the future by petitions from various people who are holding it against one person for a team's lack of success.

"You can't expect a football coach to have any sympathy with it."

Hodgson is adamant Cleverley will win over his critics, regardless of whether he makes England's World Cup squad.

"Whether he'll make the 23 or not will of course depend on a lot of things, not least of all how he does in the next couple of months," added the England boss.

"But that doesn't just apply to Tom Cleverley, that applies to a good many players.

"I'm disappointed that Tom, as a sensitive young man, has got to bear that burden (of being subject to a petition criticising his performances).

"But I know one thing - he will come through it and when he does come through it and Manchester United start winning again and he's starting to get praise for his performances, he'll be stronger for it."