Belfast Telegraph

Northern Ireland will keep the heads up, insists Lee Hodson

By Steven Beacom

Lee Hodson has paid tribute to the Rangers backroom staff for helping him get fit for Northern Ireland's clash with Germany.

The Ibrox ace was a surprise starter in defence in Tuesday night's World Cup qualifier, but certainly didn't let the side down as Northern Ireland were defeated 2-0.

The former MK Dons full-back was resolute at the back and tried to get forward as much as possible to support the attacking players in what was his 18th international appearance.

It's remarkable to think that in all those games Hodson has not finished on the winning side. Hodson admitted afterwards that he had never faced a better outfit than Joachim Low's superstars.

"It was a great experience to play against the world champions. You don't get much better than that in world football," said the 25-year-old.

"I don't think I've ever faced a better side than that Germany team. I don't think I ever will. They are the best of the best.

"All their players play for top teams but it was a great experience to play against them and our heads aren't down at all.

"I can't see anyone going to Germany and getting three points or even one point so we have to look at the positives from the game.

"After we conceded the two goals early on, we defended really well and we created quite a few chances on the counter-attack.

"It was a 2-0 defeat but there were a fair few positives to take out of the game.

"We dug deep and when we started to create chances our character showed through.

"Everyone contributed and it showed that all of us in the squad were fighting for each other."

Having moved to Rangers in the summer after impressing on loan at Kilmarnock last season, Hodson has not played as many first team matches for the Scottish Premiership outfit as he would have liked.

Extra training sessions, however, were a key factor in taking him up to speed for what was a huge test against Germany.

"Obviously it was going to be difficult for me coming into a game of that magnitude against some of the best players in the world off the back of not being a regular at my club," admitted the ex-Watford ace.

"But you have to be prepared to play whenever you are needed.

"The staff at Rangers are very good and they do extra sessions to keep you in tip top condition and that definitely helped with my fitness against Germany."

Hodson will hope he earns cap number 19 and breaks his winning duck next month at home to Azerbaijan in what is a crucial encounter, with the winners sure to be in second place behind the Germans in the table.

"Obviously it's going to be tough for us, or anyone for that matter, to get close to Germany, but second place is up for grabs," said Hodson.

Belfast Telegraph

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