Belfast Telegraph

Show me what you can do says England manager Roy Hodgson

By Mark Bryans

England manager Roy Hodgson has challenged his players to lay down a marker in the coming friendlies - but warned those looking to dictate the shape of his 23-man squad that he will not bow down to fan pressure.

A friendly double-header against World Cup holders Germany in Berlin today and Holland at Wembley on Tuesday comes as Hodgson begins to finalise his plans for who will make the cut for Euro 2016 in France.

With captain Wayne Rooney, first-choice goalkeeper Joe Hart, Raheem Sterling, Jack Wilshere, Phil Jones, Ryan Bertrand, Luke Shaw and Fabian Delph all missing out through injury this time, there are opportunities opening up for players who may have been facing a summer holiday rather than competitive action.

Danny Rose and Danny Drinkwater could make their debuts in today's clash in Germany, while there are a number of other players looking to assure themselves of a place in the reckoning.

Hodgson often stays loyal to players whom he has developed trust in, with Danny Welbeck recalled after overcoming a 10-month injury lay-off and Arsenal team-mate Theo Walcott also included despite his poor club form.

Walcott has suffered a dead leg in preparation to the game in Berlin and is a doubt.

With so many regular squad members currently out injured and two men hoping to make their debuts and impress in time to make the squad, Hodgson is not ready to sign off on his final choices for Euro 2016.

"We will have three more before the final squad is selected," he said. "It is by no means a be-all and end-all situation but at the same time we take the game very seriously and I shall learn some important lessons.

"I can't guarantee that every player will get 90 minutes in a game but, at the same time, we are going to utilise the whole squad and at least give people the chance, in these final encounters before I have to name the 23, to put a marker down."

Drinkwater's inclusion comes as he helps to keep Leicester top of the Premier League table, but upset a number of fans who believe West Ham captain Mark Noble has been producing a similar standard over a longer period.

The 28-year-old conceded on Thursday, ahead of his Hammers testimonial, that his chances of making the Euro 2016 squad were "very slim" and Hodgson did nothing to counter those comments.

Instead, Hodgson said that being told he is not picking the right players is something that comes with managing a national side.

"There are always two or three players that are in the news that many people would like to be selected," he added.

"I refuse to close doors and I refuse to rule people out. Having said that, we have a lot of players who over the last two years have worked very hard to establish themselves as England players.

"Those who are on the outside, still looking to get in, have got to convince me I'm better off leaving out a player I have been working with to make space."

The game in Berlin will be played against the backdrop of further troubles in Europe after the deadly terrorist attacks in Brussels on Tuesday.

"It is a question of trust," he said. "We have people around us who take our security very seriously and work very hard to make sure we are secure.

"It is not something we discuss, we keep our discussions to the tactics and the way we would like to play."

Hodgson also confirmed both England and Germany would wear black armbands for their match at the Olympiastadion in memory of Johan Cruyff, who passed away on Thursday.

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