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Hart and Baines back under-fire Hodgson

ESPN staff
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Should Roy Hodgson be sacked?

Goalkeeper Joe Hart and defender Leighton Baines have leapt to the defence of England manager Roy Hodgson in the wake of a World Cup exit that was confirmed with one group game remaining.

Hodgson's side have lost their two games 2-1 to Italy and Uruguay, and Costa Rica's 1-0 win over Italy on Friday meant the thin mathematical chance England had was gone.

England's first exit at a World Cup group stage since 1958 has put the manager's position in the spotlight, but Hodgson has insisted he will not resign and the FA has backed him. The British media also criticised Hodgson.

Its support was echoed by both Baines and Hart, who said that Hodgson remained the right man for the job.

"We are going in the right direction," Baines said. "There are some improvements to be made still, but I think we have made some positive strides.

"The manager has given everyone a go, and you would imagine some of the young lads are going to be around for many, many years. Ross [Barkley] had some magic moments against Italy and Uruguay.

"Continuing that progression will be positive. The easiest thing to do sometimes is to be critical and, with the position we are in, I suppose you have to accept that up to a point. But there were some positives in both the games, even if we will only really see them maybe further down the line."

Hart said everyone in the squad was "proud to play for Roy Hodgson" and described him as "a great manager."

"He's a very passionate man and someone that I have got an awful lot of respect for, and I hope to continue playing for him," he said.

And he insisted that, despite the huge disappointment of England's short-lived Brazil campaign, he also believed the team had progressed since Hodgson took over before Euro 2012.

"I imagine people will say we're not good enough, but we don't feel that inside the camp," he added. "We've got bags of quality, bags of people coming through, great leaders and great experienced players in that dressing room.

"But we've just come up short in two games, and you can't come up short in two games at the World Cup."

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