Hodgson: Youngsters must be ready for criticism

England boss Roy Hodgson has warned his youngsters they must learn to accept criticism as well as praise if they are going to reach the top.

On Friday, immediately after England had slammed five goals past Moldova in Chisinau, Hodgson likened Tom Cleverley to Cesc Fabregas such was the accomplished manner in which he had operated behind lone striker Jermain Defoe.

Just to prove how quickly fortunes can change, last night Cleverley was the man in the firing line for missing two gilt-edged chances against Ukraine that almost condemned the Three Lions to a disappointing World Cup qualifying defeat.

Hodgson is not one to play the blame game, so there were no accusing fingers being pointed at Cleverley from his direction.

However, there was no Alex Ferguson-style defence either, merely a realistic acceptance of the situation.

"I'm afraid it's part and parcel of the whole business," said Hodgson.

"People need a few other things to write about and talk about other than Steven Gerrard's a good player.

"Its nice when a player like Cleverley, or Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain comes on the scene and everyone writes them up.

"The flipside of the coin for them is when it doesn't go quite so well the praise will be replaced by a little bit of criticism and it will be suggested they need more time."

Indeed, Hodgson views last night's experience just as much part of Cleverley's footballing education as Friday was. And he was not surprised by the dip in form either.

"Friday night was a wonder night for him," said Hodgson.

"He is into the team for the second time, starts and has a very good game.

"There is Oxlade-Chamberlain on the other side as well and it was always going to be difficult for them.

"It's only three days after the last game. They've had a lot of praise for their performances but they are still young players who are still getting a foothold in the game.

"It's a big ask, especially when you've gone a goal down, to expect them to get hold of the game by the scruff of the neck and turn it round."

Hodgson expected others to do that.

And, in Steven Gerrard, whose influence grew steadily until he was red-carded, unluckily in Hodgson's eyes, two minutes from time, and Frank Lampard, who kept his nerve to drive home an 87th-minute equaliser, they responded.

Gerrard and Liverpool team-mate Glen Johnson are now suspended for the next qualifier against San Marino at Wembley on October 12.

Kyle Walker would be the automatic replacement at right-back, while Michael Carrick should return in midfield after being completely overlooked last night.

Indeed, having worked so hard to get the Manchester United man to reverse his decision to quit the international scene, he was sparingly used considering Scott Parker and Gareth Barry are also due to return from injury.

"Michael Carrick's got a good future," said Hodgson.

"We like him. We think he's a good player. But he is more likely to replace Frank Lampard or Steven Gerrard and I didn't feel the need to do that.

"That's no reflection on what we think on Michael.

"If we've got other players coming in to compete for places that's better."

As a San Marino win at Wembley would probably represent the biggest shock in football history, it is the following game, against Poland in Warsaw, that Hodgson is probably looking to as he looks to claw back the lost points.

Poland began their qualifying campaign with an encouraging draw in Montenegro, then beat Moldova last night to move level with England on four points.

Ukraine appear to be the team to beat in the battle for that one automatic qualifying spot, though, with Hodgson conceding some may now regard Oleg Blokhin's men as Group H favourites.

"You could say that I suppose but they've got to beat us over there so let's see," said Hodgson.

"I thought we were certainly good value for our point.

"We would have been very hard done by had we not got something out of the game and we are more than capable of going anywhere in the world and getting results, as we've shown in the past."



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