Hodgson not engaging Brnovic in mind games

England head coach Roy Hodgson has refused to be drawn into mind games with Montenegro counterpart Branko Brnovic ahead of Tuesday's qualifier.

Football News: Roy Hodgson, England

Hodgson wants his team do their talking on the pitch in the World Cup clash in Podgorica.

Brnovic accused England of being a long ball team, being scared of the fixture, having a weak defence and being arrogant by pencilling in friendlies for next November's play-off dates.

But Hodgson has all his focus on trying to pull off the victory which would see England wrestle top spot in the Group H away from their opponents who currently hold a two-point advantage.

He said: "People are entitled to their opinions. I would say it is mind games. There is not too much doubt about that. I don't have an opinion (about what Brnovic has said).

"I'm surprised he thinks a defeat won't hurt Montenegro. Most coaches feel a defeat at all levels of football.

"I'm also quite confident people in England who know how we play.

"I would suggest they know the team even better than their coach and will make their own decision on those statements.

"But, for me, it is water off a duck's back. Matches are not won or lost by coaches either making provocative statements or telling you what a wonderful team you are to lure you into a false sense of security."

Hodgson added: "We've prepared for the game, we've studied Montenegro, we know a lot about their team, know their strengths and weaknesses.

"Anything said before the game is of no interest to us and makes no difference to the outcome of the game."

Hodgson has no plans to talk specifically to Wayne Rooney about keeping his discipline on Tuesday evening after his sending off in a Euro 2012 qualifier in the same stadium 17 months ago.

With high stakes, England have been called into question about their discipline.

Hodgson said: "I won't talk to Wayne personally. We talk about that (discipline) in general terms all the time.

"We take great interest in our disciplinary record because of the two yellow cards meaning a ban in this group.

"But Rooney's disciplinary record since the Montenegro game has been exemplary, he hasn't been booked for England, and I won't be talking to him in particular.

"I do trust the players and won't be making a particular point of it (discipline) because I know the players are aware of it."

And, despite the standing, Hodgson thinks that England will probably be made favourites to triumph in Podgorica.

He said: "Montenegro have started the campaign well but we feel, with the players we've got, we are capable of winning the game and may even be considered favourites to win the game.

"I'm preferred to assume that responsibility. We know certainly on paper Montenegro pose a bigger threat maybe than San Marino.

"But, on the other hand, they are just another of the teams in the group and this is another game on the way to achieving our aim of qualification.

"We won't play for a draw. We have attacking qualities and will be trying to use those qualities."

In terms of his selection, Hodgson has confidence in the Joleon Lescott-Chris Smalling centre-back pairing to deal with the threat likely to be posed by Mirko Vucinic and Stevan Jovetic.

He said: "I remind people that in Joleon Lescott we have a man who last year helped Manchester City to their first title for 40 odd years.

"In Chris Smalling we have someone who is playing regularly for the champions elect in Manchester United.

"It is not like we are being forced to play players who don't play at the highest level and don't have the ability to play at the highest level.

"I trust the pair of them and think they are going to do very well tomorrow [Tuesday] night. There will be no sleep lost for me about that position."



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