Hodgson: I'll have a very competitive squad in Brazil if we qualify

The England manager believes his players won't lack motivation to seize the chance to reach the 2014 World Cup in South America, where they can be serious contenders

Roy Hodgson believes his England team are in with a chance of becoming the first European side to win a World Cup in South America.

The Three Lions begin their quest to reach Brazil 2014 next Friday when they take on Moldova in Chisinau.

They are in a qualifying group which they are widely expected to ease through, with pundits identifying the main threats as likely to come from Euro 2012 co-hosts Poland and Montenegro. Assuming England can overcome those challenges, they can contemplate a trip to South America for the finals.

If they get there though, Hodgson is aware of the difficulties his players could face in terms of the geographical scale of Brazil and the unfamiliar conditions they might encounter. He is also mindful that of the four previous World Cup tournaments staged in South America, the winners have been Uruguay (twice), Brazil and Argentina; a European team is yet to triumph on that continent.

"There's no doubt playing on your own continent is a major advantage," Hodgson told the Daily Mail.

"But if you watch the last two victories by Spain, most people would agree the quality of their football would compare with the Brazil teams of the past so maybe the gap is getting smaller.

"People are entitled to an opinion but it doesn't interest me.

"I don't think they actually said we had much chance of winning the World Cup in 1966."

Hodgson has admitted if England were to qualify for Brazil 2014, it wouldn't bother him if they weren't one of the favourites to win the trophy.

"We won't be favourites if we qualify but I am not unhappy about that.

"I'd much rather someone else bears the burden of being favourite to win a World Cup.

"But if we get there I am pretty certain I will have a very competitive group of players."

As far as motivation is concerned, the former West Brom manager is sure he won't need to tell his players what a great opportunity this will be to play in a World Cup in football's most glamorous nation, where the hosts and  five-times champions bound to be one of the favourites in two years' time.

"I would be a bit disappointed if one of my team talks needs to be 'Listen lads, this is the chance to qualify for a World Cup in Brazil, give it your best shot'.

"I like to concentrate on the basics. At the moment it's Moldova and then Ukraine.

"It's important we play well in every game because these days all groups are much closer than many believe them to be and it's by no means certain the favourite will win it."