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Sunday 25 September 2016

Hodgson hits back at Bale's 'disrespectful comments'

Gareth Bale
Gareth Bale

Roy Hodgson has told Gareth Bale not to question England's passion or patriotism ahead of Thursday's crunch Euro 2016 clash against Wales.

Bale claimed last week that Welsh players had more desire than their neighbours and that England "big themselves up before they've done anything".

Wales went on to win their Group B opener 2-1 over Slovakia, while Hodgson's men were held to a 1-1 draw after Russia's injury-time equaliser.

That makes the stakes in Lens even higher than they already were, with qualification potentially at stake as well as bragging rights. But Hodgson believes the Real Madrid superstar's jibes were ill-informed.

"Receiving disrespectful comments is part and parcel of being a footballer and a football coach," he said. "I don't ever comment on other people. "I've been in the game sufficiently long to know every opponent has got an opinion, the other day it was (Russia goalkeeper Igor) Akinfeev saying we were the worst seeded team and now it's Gareth Bale. They can have those opinions but I don't have any doubts personally about our patriotism or desireg.

"If he believes that that's the case he's welcome to that opinion. But we know who we are, we know what we are. We don't have any doubts about ourselves in that respect."

Hodgson has hinted he will review England's system, having fielded a new look starting XI in the first game, featuring recalls for Adam Lallana and Raheem Sterling - with the former more successful than the latter - and captain Wayne Rooney playing in midfield for the first time in his long international career.

Hodgson may yet revert to two specialists strikers and a four-man midfield against Wales, particularly with Leicester striker Jamie Vardy straining at the leash to make a mark on his first major tournament.

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