Roy's English revolution
Manager says he plans to transform defeated troops with crop of young soldiers
ROY HODGSON flew home from Krakow yesterday, promising a "revolution" for England's next game, the August friendly against Italy in Berne. England's young boys like Jack Wilshere, Kyle Walker and Tom Cleverley will feature.
As he prepares for 2014 World Cup qualifying, Hodgson will not be clearing out the old guard, simply mixing in some of the few prospects emerging in the Premier League.
Steven Gerrard retains his place and the armband. John Terry and Ashley Cole remain first choices for Hodgson, who also lamented the absence of Gareth Barry and Frank Lampard at Euro 2012.
Yet opportunity knocks in Berne. "With regards to the August 15 friendly, you will definitely see some revolution there,'' said Hodgson, pausing en route to the airport. "That game is the ideal opportunity for me to look at some players who weren't with us here and can add to the quality of our team.
"The first thing I have to do is really evaluate some of these other players who haven't been here.
"Many are the younger ones we probably would have taken for the experience had they been fit."
As well as Wilshere, Walker and Cleverley, other contenders include Daniel Sturridge, Jack Rodwell and Ross Barkley. Euro 2012 squad members like Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain can also expect greater prominence.
The problem Hodgson faces is that some youngsters -- like Josh McEachran -- are simply not acquiring sufficient game-time in a Premier League full of foreign talent.
After the dress rehearsal in Berne, being staged there because Wembley is being used for the Olympic Games, Hodgson focuses on the road to Brazil, starting with an away game in Moldova on September 7 and then Ukraine at home four days later.
"After that we go on to the September qualifiers and we will have to mix the two together: what I've seen and what I know of the players who were here and what I've seen from Premiership football of the other players,'' said Hodgson.
He expects Terry and Cole to be available for national service. "Well I'd be very disappointed if they weren't.
"They've given me every reason to believe they're very anxious to continue. They were two of the real success stories of the tournament.
"John Terry has been excellent throughout, as has Ashley. Personally I've not even thought of asking the question -- will you continue? Because they would have to knock me over with a feather if they came to me and said 'I'm not'.''
The indications are that both would continue. Terry's displays highlighted his enduring value and his willingness to keep a low profile off the pitch, being a good team member rather than a brooding ex-captain, has been much commented on.
If Cole is rested for Berne, the presentation of his 100th cap should arrive against Ukraine at Wembley (assuming he plays in Moldova four days earlier).
Hodgson chases a fusion of qualities, helping strengthen England for the future. "We've got to retain two elements this tournament has given us. We've got to retain our defensive discipline, organisation and teamwork and retain the desire to be part of an England team, to really go the extra mile to be able to wear the shirt.
"The next question is then can we improve the quality within our team and that's something we'll have to work at. I'm rather hoping a few players will knock so hard on my door they prove to be the right ones."
Hodgson was asked how he would have judged England's tournament exertions had he been in his old role as a distinguished member of UEFA's technical studies group. His verdict was typically honest. "I would have flagged up that the team is very hard working, very disciplined, that they defended well.
"I would have flagged up that we were a bit wasteful in our counter-attacking positions. We gave the ball away far too often."
Like midfield. England were embarrassed in the central third because Andrea Pirlo was so good and because the season's stresses on assorted sinews finally caught up with Steven Gerrard and Scott Parker. Hodgson revealed some damning details, namely that England's ageing engine-room ran out of steam after four games in 13 days.
"From midway through the second half we lost one of our most inventive players in the midfield in Steven with cramp. Parker was also struggling with the Achilles.
"We had used up to two of our substitutes (with Andy Carroll and Theo Walcott coming on for Danny Welbeck and James Milner) so we were struggling to know how to get round that."
Parker was replaced by Jordan Henderson but Gerrard struggled on. "We were forced to keep Steven on,'' continued Hodgson.
"We haven't made excuses at this tournament but there were quite a few players left at home who were very good technical footballers who may actually have helped us out had they been here.
"If Gareth Barry and Frank Lampard had been available (against Italy), it might have given me more of a chance to help out some of the others. There are players like Wilshere in central midfield who might have improved the technical level of our performance."