England are the team big guns will fear, says Hodgson

BRAZIL-BOUND England will be the team all the top nations will hope to avoid in December’s World Cup group stage draw, according to manager Roy Hodgson.

England, currently ranked 17th in the world, are expected to be omitted from a list of the tournament’s top-eight seeds, which will include South American hosts Brazil, due to be announced by world governing body Fifa today.

It means England, who secured their World Cup place with a 2-0 home win over Poland on Tuesday, will go into pot two for the main draw and could therefore be paired with holders Spain, or former winners and old rivals Argentina or Germany.

Yet Hodgson says the only fear will come from England’s opponents and that guiding then-pot three side Switzerland to the last-16 in 1994 proves the draw can be defied.

“We won’t be favourites, that’s for sure,” he said. “But I don’t think we will go into any games believing we don’t have a chance to win and I don’t think there will be too many teams out there thinking ‘whoopee we have got England, what an easy one’.

“There will be 32 very, very good teams there so it’s pretty unnecessary to worry too much about whether we are the first or second out of the hat.

“With Switzerland we came out of the hat third but we still got through the group.

“I am not that bothered about the system. We will embrace whatever happens to us.”

Having successfully avoided unwanted entry to the qualification play-offs next month, England are hopeful of playing a friendly against Germany at Wembley to conclude the Football Association’s 150th anniversary celebrations.

A friendly against a non-European opponent, still to be confirmed, will take place prior to that.

And Hodgson hopes any of those players selected can follow the example set by Tottenham winger Andros Townsend, who shone on Tuesday and in his England debut against Montenegro last week, and seize their chance to stake a claim for a spot in his 23-man World Cup squad.

“He [Townsend] has spent the best part of his life on loan, playing in front of very, very small crowds,” Hodgson added. “He shrugged it all off and played as if he had been playing for England all his life. All credit to him.

“One always welcomes those heavy knocks at the door from those who are screaming ‘listen I am the one you have to choose, I am better’

“Ravel [Morrison] has done ever so well, as has Saido [Berahino].

“But on the other hand, Daniel Sturridge has been playing well for the national team and Ross Barkley has been training well.

“We have a strong squad at the moment, so it won’t be easy for someone to break in.”