Hodgson demands England show courage & responsibility as he ponders midfield selection

After observing his squad in two friendlies the boss now assesses the merits of his midfielders James Milner, Theo Walcott & Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain in choosing first choice XI

England manager Roy Hodgson has demanded courage alongside defensive responsibility from his wide players as he pondered his midfield selection ahead of the Three Lions’ Euro 2012 opener against France.

The newly-appointed boss used warm-up matches against Norway and Belgium to assess his options on the wing.

And Hodgson has hinted at a cautious selection as he praised the versatile James Milner for his defensive organisation over the more direct Theo Walcott.

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"The thing about Theo [Walcott] is that he has had quite a few chances in the team," he told The Telegraph.

"Often his name will come up in these situations. But when he has started games people have said you need someone else in there.

"If I opt for Walcott and it doesn’t go well I should have played [James] Milner. They are different types of player.

"Take Milner and [Steven] Gerrard in the last two games. They have done really well to work as hard as they have done. They have taken up good positions defensively."

The dynamic Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain faces competition from the more experienced Stewart Downing for a place on the left of midfield, but Hodgson took the 18-year-old as an example of the need for bravery in attack to match responsibility in defence on the flanks.

While acknowledging that the attacker was "over-excitable", he added: "It is a good fault though. We have been trying to encourage that a little bit.

"Our message to the players has been that they have to be brave and show some courage. If it doesn’t work, we will take the responsibility.

"We would rather they try and go by [their opponent] than turn back and play the ball back again because you are worried [of criticism] if you lose the ball.

"He [Oxlade-Chamberlain] took that message very much on board. With a stricter or a kinder referee he might have got a few free-kicks for some of the times when he lost the ball.

"We have got quick players. I don’t think we have got into those areas [behind full-backs] anywhere near as much as I’d have liked. We will do a lot more work on that aspect.

"But the good thing is that if we could get into those areas, the players we have got there, with their pace and ability, can cause problems.

"I have a team in my head that can do very well against France. If we have a bit of luck on our side, perhaps we can win it."