Hodgson laughs off Montenegro claims that England is 'scared'

The Three Lions boss was happy with being labelled favorites for the Group H clash in Podgorica on Tuesday but said comments from Branko Brnovic are 'mind games.'
Roy Hodgson has laughed off suggestions England is "scared" ahead of its crucial Group H World Cup qualifying clash with Montenegro in Podgorica on Tuesday.

The build-up to the 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 sent off as England let a two-goal lead slip away.

Yet despite Montengro manager Branko Brnovic's belief that Hodgson's England will be worried about its  return to the hostile 12,000-capacity stadium, the former Fulham boss instead asked why the Eastern European nation is nonplussed by the prospect of defeat.

"I should think it's definitely mind games, I don't think there's too much doubt about that," Hodgson told reporters. "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 the favorite for the contest that could go far to determine the winner of the group.

"If he's suggesting we should accept the burden of being favorites to win the game then we'll accept it, it's not a problem for us," Hodgson said. "We're confident, we think we've got good players, we'll accept that responsibility."

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 said. "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."

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