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Hodgson plays down World Cup chances

Whenever England qualify for a major tournament, the English media and public seem to whip themselves into a frenzy over the possibility of their national team winning their first senior international trophy since the 1966 World Cup.

Decades of disappointment has generally failed to temper expectations as English fans continue to consider their national team genuine contenders for World Cups and European Championships.

But with less than a year until Brazil 2014, Hodgson says there are a number of reasons why England should be considered no better than an outside chance of claiming the title.

"We won't be favourites – that's for sure," Hodgson said on Wednesday.

"I think that if you are going to define World Cups as only worthwhile if you win it, then basically speaking, trying to qualify and trying to get there becomes basically a complete waste of time.

"We know there are some very, very strong teams in the world, we know that in South America, the South Americans have yet been unbeaten (in World Cups) and European teams don't win there.

"But I don't imagine any of us saying this is impossible but I must also say, and I think the general public will agree with me, that we have been in a slight transition period.

"There are a lot of good young players coming through, we are making progress, I think we are getting better but whether or not we are at the level of some other teams that one could quite easily name as yet and who are quite clearly bigger favourites than us to win, I don't think any of us would say that."

England wrapped up a berth in Brazil with a 2-0 win over Poland on Tuesday to top UEFA's Group H of World Cup qualifying by a point ahead of Ukraine.

The victory came just four days after England had thumped Montenegro 4-1 and Hodgson revealed how relieved he felt as his team triumphed in both must-win encounters.

"Both games were tense because only one result was possible, there was no safety net – we had to win," Hodgson said.

"If we don't win we don't qualify, basically, so that brings a lot of tension with it, so I suppose I'm happy that those tense days are over."