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Hodgson hails attitude within England camp

ESPN staff
May 21, 2014 « Pochettino urged to snub Tottenham by Cortese | Rashid's burst takes Yorkshire top »
Wayne Rooney and England captain Steven Gerrard relax during a training session in Portugal © Getty Images
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England manager Roy Hodgson will not be keeping tabs on his players' birthdays during the World Cup, branding the notion 'flippant' and nothing to do with professional football.

Hodgson's remarks followed reports that Yaya Toure could leave Manchester City this summer after the Ivorian's agent branded the club "sick" for not marking his 31st birthday with a grand gesture.

Asked if he knew his players' birthdays, Hodgson said: "No. They don't wish me happy birthday either. I regard those things as being flippant, I don't think it has anything to do with being a professional footballer. I do not interfere in their private lives."

The contrast between Toure's complaints and the standards of professionalism Hodgson expects of the England squad as they prepare for Brazil could not be more stark.

Speaking from the squad's training camp in Portugal, Hodgson admitted he was impressed with the attitude of his players to date.

"We don't talk about relaxation, we talk about the professional job we need to do and we expect players are 100% professional," he added. "If they happen to enjoy it, it is a major bonus.

"There is a feeling of enthusiasm and energy because they are happy they are taking part and leading the way for England."

England will return from Portugal to face Peru in their final match of the season at Wembley before flying out to Miami, where they will play two more warm-up games against Honduras and Ecuador.

Their opening game in Brazil, against Italy, takes place on Saturday June 14, and Hodgson expects the likes of Wayne Rooney to be in top condition physically and mentally by the time they reach South America.

"[Rooney] realises what a good player he is," Hodgson said. "He knows we, as a football nation, place a lot of faith in him. The eyes of England and possibly the rest of the world are on him.

"He spent his week off here in Portugal and trained in that time. He told me he wanted to be 100% ready to train from the first day.

"I am finding it tremendous," Hodgson added. "It is the first training session I have really done with the team for two-and-a-half months. I have really enjoyed being with the players these two or three days.

"I am impressed by the way they have approached this task and the way they are going about their business. I was prepared to be impressed because they have impressed me every time."

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