England boss Roy Hodgson is surprised by the amount of talk surrounding comments made by Wales’ players in the build-up to Thursday’s Euro 2016 showdown in Lens.
Gareth Bale questioned England’s pride and passion and both he and midfielder Aaron Ramsey suggested none of Hodgson’s squad would make Wales’ starting line-up.
Defender James Chester has claimed England’s strikers are not in the same class as Bale (see below), but England boss Hodgson is not concerned by the pre-match hype. Speaking at a press conference to preview the Group B clash, Hodgson said: “I think they (Wales) will play like they have been playing for quite a long period of time now with Chris Coleman. They’ve been playing very successfully that way too.
“We are not anticipating that there will be any vast changes in their style of play or in the personnel that they’ve been using.
“I don’t think we’ll be surprised particularly by either their line-up or what they try to do when they’ve got the ball or when they don’t have the ball.
“We might not be able to spring surprises either as they know our players and they know the type of football that we play. The talking, I’ve got to say, surprises me that people are focusing so much on it.”
England played Scotland in friendlies in 2013 and 2014 and also drew with the Republic of Ireland last summer, but Hodgson believes little can be gleaned from those games in terms of the Wales clash, despite the similarities in playing style.
“I don’t think so,” he said. “Tournament matches are something very special. There was a lot of hype around the Scotland game, like there is of course around this one, but this is more special because this is in a tournament.
“Both Wales and ourselves have worked very, very hard to qualify and it’s one we’ve been looking forward to for a very long time.
“They’ve been good games, those games against Scotland and Ireland, and tough games for us, but the game is very different because this is a tournament and there are such important points at stake here whereas all that was available to us when we played Scotland, for example, was the bragging rights.”
England had a full complement of players as they trained for the final time ahead of Thursday’s match.
All 23 players took part in a morning session at their Stade des Bourgognes base in Chantilly before travelling to Lens.
The squad went through some light warm-up exercises in front of photographers and media before more detailed preparation took place behind closed doors.