Monday, 18 June, 2012
Roy Hodgson has all 23 players to pick from for Tuesday's game with Ukraine
England Manager Roy Hodgson has a full squad of players to select from for the first time in Euro 2012 as he prepares for the final Group D game with Ukraine on Tuesday night.
With striker Wayne Rooney returning from suspension and Theo Walcott overcoming a slight knock from last Friday's game with Sweden, Hodgson has a choice of 23 players for the deciding game with the joint-hosts in Donetsk.
If the Three Lions can avoid defeat at the Donbass Arena, then that will be enough to take them through to the last eight of the competition and Hodgson's ambition to succeed hasn't changed since he first took on the role.
"Our ambitions have been clear from the start, we came here hoping to do well and play well enough to get out of our group, so we haven't achieved that just yet," explained Hodgson.
"We believe we can do well in the competition and our intentions haven't changed from that."
Hodgson has already gone on record to state that Rooney will be in the line-up for the first time in the competition, and given the recent performances of both Andy Carroll and Danny Welbeck in Rooney's absence, the Manager admits he is now faced with a tough decision to make.
"It's a very difficult choice for me now, because both Andy and Danny have done so well in the games leading up to the tournament and in the tournament itself," he added.
"They've given me the classic manager's headache, but it's the headache that we all want because it's players who are in form and playing well to compete for a place.
"I have made it clear that Wayne Rooney will start the game, so that decision has to be made and I shall make it."
Rooney has been an integral part of the squad group over the last few weeks, despite not being able to play a part in the games himself and after working with him at close quarters in training, Hodgson has no qualms about his condition to come straight back into the team.
"I've been very impressed with the way he's gone about his work in training sessions," he revealed. "He's fully fit and if anything, he's every bit as sharp as he was for his last game of the season with Manchester United.
"I don't have any fears in that respect. He knows how important the occasion is, not just for himself, but for his team-mates."
Following the heavy rainfall in Donetsk, which forced the previous game here between Ukraine and France to be temporarily abandoned on Friday, the England squad didn't get the chance to train on the pitch there as normal for a UEFA match.
Instead, they prepared back at base camp in Krakow before being able to have a walk around the stadium on their arrival in Donetsk later in the afternoon and Hodgson has no complaints about the situation.
"It's in a very good condition, despite the heavy rainfall, so we were quite surprised at how good a condition the pitch is in and it was nice to get a look at it," said Hodgson.
"We were happy with our training session back in Krakow this morning and it was good just now for the players to see with their own eyes how the pitch is since we played here against France."
Hodgson, along with captain Steven Gerard, also passed on his and The FA's condolences to the family and friends of The Daily Star football writer Danny Fullbrook, who passed away on Monday morning.
"On behalf of the England Team and everyone at The FA, we woud like to pass on our deepest condolences to the family of Danny Fullbrook, who sadly died during the night after bravely fighting illness," he said.
Gerrard added: "I got to know Danny quite well, I did a column with Danny many years ago. He was a very nice guy, very genuine. I would like to pass on my sympathies to Danny's family and especially his little boy."