Hodgson has faith in strong England future but fires qualifiers warning

The 66-year-old rejects criticism of the lack of young English players and reserves praise for Ross Barkley but feels that the focus must be on reaching Brazil 2014
England manager Roy Hodgson believes that the future of the national team looks rosy but warns that promising youngsters will count for nothing if they fail to qualify for the World Cup.

Following his appointment as FA chairman, Grey Dyke expressed in September his disillusionment at the lack of young English players given opportunities by clubs in the Premier League.

However, Hodgson feels optimistic over the future of English football and cites recently capped Everton midfielder Ross Barkley as an example of one of the country's "unbelievably exciting players" emerging.

"I think there's been the emergence of lots of very interesting Under-21s players this year," he told the FA's official website. "Ross is even younger - I don't think he's 20 yet so it's nice that people like himself are emerging.

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"Gareth Southgate and his Under-21s team have some unbelievably exciting players and I think the future for our football looks good but, of course, we need first of all to get to the World Cup and to give ourselves a chance to continue this situation where the team I think will get stronger and stronger."

The 66-year-old takes charge of England's final two World Cup qualifiers against Montenegro and Poland on October 11 and 15 but remains hopeful of reaching Brazil with home support in both fixtures.

He continued: "We'd ideally have liked to have 24 points from eight games and had no concern from these two games but, realistically, it was always going to be a tough ask to have got that far in front in a very difficult group.

"So we're happy to go into these last two games at home, backed up by our fans, knowing that two victories will assure us a place in Brazil, so the scenario is a good one."

"The most important thing is that we've been preparing for this qualification for a long time believing that we'd be good enough to reach the final stage of it and that we'd be good enough to get ourselves over the line.

"Now is the opportunity to prove that and the games are here at Wembley, which is important to us because we feel comfortable playing at home and we feel we're going to get good support from the fans who come to the game."