Hodgson wants England to tap into Olympic mood

by Steve Griffiths, Agence France-Presse

Posted at Sep 11 2012 04:14 PM | Updated as of Sep 12 2012 12:14 AM

LONDON - Roy Hodgson has told his England stars they must seize a golden opportunity to win back their place in the nation's hearts in the afterglow of the London Olympics.

Hodgson's side will be back in action on home soil for the first time since the Olympics when they host Ukraine in a World Cup qualifier at Wembley on Tuesday and the England manager is keen to surf the wave of enthusiasm for British sport currently sweeping the country.

Some critics used the success of Britain's clean-cut athletes at the Olympics and Paralympics as a chance to take a swipe at the perceived arrogance and insularity of the modern generation of over-paid footballers.

But Hodgson remains optimistic that the British sporting public can be won over if his team produce a successful run of their own.

In a bid to capitalise on the Olympic spirit, 15 of Britain's medallists will be presented to the crowd at half-time on Tuesday and Hodgson said: "They have been such a success for the nation. It is terrific they can come and be paraded at the game.

"It is nice for us to see the British people are still prepared to get behind their athletes.

"We as a sporting nation have profited enormously from the Olympic Games.

"It is important now that, in our individual sports, we try to keep some of that spirit going and try to tap in to what is a great interest in the English public in top level sport."

After Friday's 5-0 demolition of Moldova there are signs Hodgson is starting to fashion a more attacking England team following their largely negative displays at Euro 2012.

Now he wants them to put on a memorable show against Ukraine to maintain the post-Olympic feelgood factor.

"We will have 70,000 there tomorrow on a Tuesday night after a summer where people have spent a lot to watch the Olympics," he said.

"It adds to the pressure, the fact we know so many people want us to do well, and it does tighten people up a bit.

"At times that can be a good thing as well because it means there is no question about not having the right focus and the right attitude towards the game.

"That is important as a coach, knowing the players want it very badly and are focused on their task."

Hodgson has confirmed he will make only one enforced change from the side that beat Moldova, with either Gary Cahill or Phil Jagielka replacing the injured John Terry.

"I'm not trying to be coy about the team. It was excellent defensively and offensively against Moldova," he added.

"I see no reason for making any particular changes in the team other than the one forced upon us.

"We will be playing the same players as long as nothing untoward happens between now and kick off time.

"Cahill and Jagielka are both good players so it is a tight decision and whichever player I chose, I would be happy the team was well covered and that John's absence is well covered."

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