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Hodgson won't ditch old heads

ESPN staff
June 25, 2012 « Venus brushes off retirement talk | Chartbeat test »

Roy Hodgson has suggested the experienced heads will have a key role to play in England's World Cup qualification campaign.

England bowed out of Euro 2012 to Italy and the focus will now shift to qualifying for the 2014 World Cup.

Hodgson had only five weeks to work with the squad, having taken charge of the national side in May, and he said when taking over that he had an eye on the future.

The likes of Steven Gerrard, Ashley Cole and John Terry were big players for England this summer - but they are all over 30. Questions have been asked about whether Hodgson will turn to youth, but he has made it clear that experience will be a vital part of his squad.

"I am the last person to be talking about people's ages," Hodgson said. "I can't go down the youth is good route. I think it is important you have experienced players. I have been delighted with all those players, in particular Steven and John who have been through these heartbreaks before.

"They have been a big help to me but also to the younger players. They have helped them enormously. A guy like Wayne Rooney, who could not play for the first two games, spent a lot of time talking to the younger players.

"You learn so much about a team when you work with them. You get to know them as players and people and you get to know how good they are. These five weeks have been invaluable for me."

Gerrard was handed the captaincy and relished the responsibility. He has already held talks with Hodgson and the Liverpool man intends to lead the side through World Cup qualifying.

"I have loved the responsibility, I've enjoyed every minute," Gerrard said. "I gave it my best shot.

"I have had a chat with the manager and I am available as long as I am wanted at this level. The manager has told me he wants me to carry on."

Hodgson feels that there are enough green shoots to suggest the signs for the future of the England side are positive - citing Germany as an example.

"We have seen how well they (Germany) have kicked on from 2006," Hodgson said. "They have brought in some younger players and some of the older ones are performing to a good level. We have to take heart from that.

"I would like to think there is good reason for optimism. There are some good young players coming through. We are doing well at Under-21 level, there are young players breaking into teams. We have to be optimistic, we have to believe and see the positives."

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