Roy Hodgson has laughed off suggestions England are "scared" ahead of their crucial Group H clash with Montenegro in Podgorica on Tuesday evening.
The build-up to the World Cup 2014 encounter has been dominated by snipes aimed at the Three Lions from the Montengro camp, largely related to their last meeting at Podgorica City Stadium in which Wayne Rooney was red-carded as England let slip a two-goal lead.
Yet despite Branko Brnovic's belief that Hodgson's England will be worried about their return to the hostile 12,000-capacity stadium, the former Fulham boss instead asked why the eastern European nation are nonplussed by the prospect of defeat.
Speaking in his pre-match press briefing, the 65-year-old said: "I should think it's definitely mind games, I don't think there's too much doubt about that.
"I don't really have an opinion on that. I'm surprised that he thinks that defeat won't hurt Montenegro. Most coaches feel that defeat hurts them at all levels of football."
Hodgson attempted to defuse much of Brnovic's press conference tactics by openly admitting England should be seen as favourites for the contest that could go far to determine the winner of Group H.
He added: "If he's suggesting we should accept the burden of being favourites to win the game then we'll accept it, it's not a problem for us.
"We're confident, we think we've got good players, we'll accept that responsibility.
"Anyway, quite frankly, whether you accept the responsibility or not it's what happens during the 95 minutes tomorrow night that decides everything anyway. So whatever you say beforehand doesn't make a great deal of difference.
"It's what the players are going to do tomorrow evening kicking off at nine o'clock local time and finishing 95 minutes later."
Hodgson did also temper suggestions that the Football Association would be foolish to start arranging pre-tournament friendlies ahead of the World Cup, insisting it was only natural to be well prepared.
"I'm not surprised the FA have pencilled in friendlies," Hodgson stated. "I think probably most teams will have pencilled in matches for November, but it's not something we've discussed.
"I'm not even sure I know who those matches would be against if and when. As far as we're concerned our focus at the moment is fully and firmly on the end of October, when we play Poland at home, and we're hoping by that time we'll qualify and we're there and if we haven't, hopefully in November we'll have a chance to put things right."