The England manager believes clinching one of the two top spots in Group H should be seen as a success, and will be satisfied with going through to Brazil 2014 as a runner-up
Draws against Ukraine and Poland have seen his new-look side fall two points behind group leaders Montenegro, but the former Liverpool manager his happy to reach Brazil by any means neccessary.
England welcome the Samba boys to Wembley in February to celebrate the FA's 150th anniversary, before travelling to San Marino and the group leaders.
And Hodgson revealed that finishing in the top two is now the priority.
"If we don't succeed in being number one, I'd be more than happy to go into the play-offs," he told the BBC.
"The important thing is we get one of those two positions. The group we are in was quite underestimated, but that is often the case.
"They don't need motivation, they need to perform, and then we need that little bit of luck all teams need if they are going to get over the line."
The England coach is currently in South America assessing training complexes should his side reach the tournament in 2014.
The Brazilian FA announced England would play at the Maracana in June next year, although the FA refused to comment, with the ground currently undergoing substantial redevelopment having been scheduled as the venue for the World Cup final.
And Hodgson is eager to play at the iconic venue where England won on their last visit in 1984, courtesy of John Barnes' wonder goal and Mark Hateley's strike.
"If we got here we would believe in ourselves, we would think that we have a good chance," he added.
"Most coaches would love to have that on their CV - that one of the games they were involved in was against Brazil in the Maracana, the holy ground."