Hodgson prepared to blood new players

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The former Liverpool head coach says qualification for next summer's tournament is the most important thing but refuses to hold back the progress of his younger players

England manager Roy Hodgson insists he will not prioritise winning all 10 Euro 2016 qualifiers over blooding new players.

The Three Lions have won all six of their Group E fixtures so far and will progress to next summer's showpiece in France with a win over minnows San Marino on Saturday.

But Hodgson, who confirmed that Jamie Vardy, Jonjo Shelvey and John Stones would all start away at the minnows, was adamant that a potential clean sweep of qualifying victories would not affect his squad selection.

"There's going to be 24 teams competing next year," he said. "I very much doubt that any of those will go in with doubts about having a chance of winning the tournament.

"We're the same, but we do things step-by-step. And at the moment we're just concentrating on winning the games we need to.

"One thing that is within our grasp is to win all the 10 qualifiers, but that's not a given, though If we do qualify either tomorrow, I may not put 10 out of 10 in front of the opportunity to blood other players next month.

"I don't want to give the team out, but there are some players who have invoked interest. Shelvey, Stones and Vardy will start tomorrow.

"Stones has done exceptionally well. Since he's been with us he has been 100 per cent focused and motivated, the news stories haven’t affected him."

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Hodgson also backed Wayne Rooney to break Bobby Charlton's goalscoring record for England, with the Manchester United man just one goal away from matching the haul of 49.

"There's no doubt in my mind he'll score these goals," Hodgson added.

"But his main concern is to win his remaining matches. I wouldn’t mind him not scoring a goal in all these games if it meant that we won."

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