Roy Hodgson has said England will attack Ukraine in this evening’s fight to reach the Euro 2012 quarter-finals.
|Hodgson: England will attack Ukraine|
Hodgson came under fire in some quarters for the Three Lions’ negative approach in securing an opening 1-1 draw against France, but a pulsating 3-2 win over Sweden showed another side to England’s gameplan at the finals.
And despite only needing a draw in Donetsk, Hodgson – unbeaten after four games in charge – will send out a side to go for a win.
"Our aim is to take the initiative like I thought we did for a very long period against Sweden,” he said.
"If you sit back and give the initiative to the opposition then you can't be surprised when they take it.
"There is the obvious pitfall that you could be tempted into trying to shut up shop and drop deeper and deeper only to find that in the last minutes of the game your opponents get a lucky goal, get given a penalty or a wide free-kick gets deflected into your goal.
"We will be trying to make sure we take the initiative but Ukraine will be trying to do the [same] and that is what makes this a fascinating game of football."
France simultaneously face Sweden, who are already eliminated, in Kiev. With Les Bleus joining England on four points and the head-to-head being a draw, should both sides win – or draw – this evening goal difference could be crucial in deciding who wins Group D.
World and defending European champions Spain topped Group C last night, meaning whoever finishes second will face them in the last eight, with the other side playing Italy.
Hodgson does not appear to be fazed by the challenges ahead – or the heightened expectations of the fans.
"It's not just England who haven't always performed when the expectations were heightened,” he said in reference to the national team’s failures at recent tournaments.
“There's quite a few teams that have failed. It's a fact of life... We believe in ourselves and we want to do well.
"In some ways it's rather nice that people back home are hoping and even believing we can do well, and we're giving them something to dream about and cling on to.”
After confirming Theo Walcott had shrugged off his hamstring complaint, Hodgson appeared to be veering towards selecting the Arsenal winger.
It was Walcott's introduction that turned what looked like becoming a defeat to Sweden into a victory – and his additional pace may be utilised ahead of James Milner after he did so much running in Kiev.
"The technical staff have done such a good job helping the players recover," said Hodgson. "We've been very anxious to make sure we use the training sessions, and in particular, the recovery sessions wisely.
"I get the feeling at the moment that the players are as fit and ready for this third game as they were for the first. I don't necessarily feel the need to change people because I'm worried about their legs or their ability to see the game through.
"The team that's been doing so well is ready to go. On the other hand, there are plenty of people who are out of the team, as you saw with Walcott when he came on the other night, who are very anxious to make a statement as well."