England boss Roy Hodgson has shrugged off renewed speculation over his future as the Three Lions bid to seal top spot in Group B with victory over Slovakia in Saint-Etienne on Monday.
The issue of Hodgson’s contact, which expires at the end of Euro 2016, was reignited by outgoing Football Association chairman Greg Dyke who said yesterday that progression to the quarter-finals might be enough to trigger a fresh deal for the 68-year-old.
Hodgson, meanwhile, is set to roll the dice and make as many as six changes, including resting skipper Wayne Rooney, to his starting line-up this evening in a bid to keep his frontline players fresh for the knockout phase. Victory would see England finish at the summit of Group B, while a point would guarantee their presence in the last 16.
“It’s been raised many times before, it doesn’t make any difference one way or another,” said Hodgson. “My contract runs out after this tournament, that’s a fact everyone has known about for the last two years. On a regular basis it gets brought up: should I stay, do I want to stay, what should the FA do?
“Nothing changes in that respect. For myself and the players there is only one thing on our minds and that’s to win the next game and see how far we can go.
“We concentrate on what we can do and what we can do is work very hard in our preparation for the game we are about to play. One day, after our stay here ends, the FA will need to make a decision with what they want to do in regards to the future.”
Dyke chose the eve of England’s crunch clash with Slovakia to reiterate that the decision over whether Hodgson will lead the Three Lions at the 2018 World Cup in Russia depends on how the next few weeks pan out.
“What we have said is that if we have done well and played well then I think he will be renewed,” said Dyke.
“Doing well? Semi-finals would be great; quarter-finals if we play well and meet one of the best sides and unfortunately lose or go out on penalties, something like that.
“If you can win it that is great success. If you get knocked out in the group stage that is a disaster. That is the sort of discussion that will go on.”
England’s only previous match in Saint-Etienne was a 4-3 penalty shoot-out defeat to Argentina at the 1998 World Cup, which provides a stark reminder of the importance of the Three Lions securing first place in their group.
England finished second behind Romania 18 years ago, while the likes of Northern Ireland, Albania and Czech Republic are all potential last-16 opponents this time around if England finish top of Group B.
“The important thing is to be in the next round, but we would like to win the group,” added Hodgson. “We want to do that because it would mean playing against a third-placed team rather than a second-placed nation or one that finished top of their group. Our motivation is there for all to see.”
Strikers Daniel Sturridge and Jamie Vardy, midfield duo Jordan Henderson and Jack Wilshere, and full-backs Nathaniel Clyne and Ryan Bertrand are all expected to be drafted into Hodgson’s starting XI against Slovakia.