Hodgson hopes Olympians can inspire English football

ENGLAND manager Roy Hodgson has called upon his young side to learn from the example set by London 2012’s Olympians in their pursuit of success over the coming seasons.

In tonight facing Italy in Berne, England revisit the opponents to whom they lost during June’s European Championship and Hodgson, speaking ahead of the friendly fixture in Switzerland, recognises the lessons that can be learned from the Olympic athletes who withstood a level of pressure under which England have only ever suffered.

“Team sports have to be differentiated but we saw how well they did in terms of meeting expectation,” Hodgson said. “So many athletes who were hopes lived up to those expectations. They answered those dreams in front of a home crowd.

“We need to understand that when we play we are under the same spotlight.

“Also how well they performed in interviews, the humility they showed when they win, the grace they showed to people they had beaten. The way they showed and admitted their disappointment.”

Chelsea’s Frank Lampard (right) will captain England in the absence of Steven Gerrard of Liverpool, but though both may feature in a generation of international players in which fans have sometimes lost faith, Hodgson believes the attitude of the public to be every bit as important as that of the players.

“There was incredible support within stadiums, tremendous behaviour,” he added. “So maybe it is something we need to look at in more global terms.

“To be frank you can’t compare, for example, the atmosphere and the way they behave in the Olympic Stadium to the Charity Shield. It is a very different public.

“Maybe it is a wake-up call for us all that you don’t need that hatred and abuse that football players have to suffer. We didn’t see too much of that in the Olympic Games.

“We must understand they are performing to a quite different audience.”

Three Lions or three cubs?

■ Six – the number of uncapped players in England’s present squad. Jack Butland, John Ruddy, Ryan Bertrand, Steven Caulker, Jake Livermore and Tom Cleverley all await their debuts.

■ 286 – the number of caps England’s squad has between them, 90 of which belong to one man: Chelsea midfielder Frank Lampard.

■ 287 – the number of caps between the absent Steven Gerrard, Wayne Rooney,
Gareth Barry and Glen Johnson.

■ 543 – the number of caps between absent regulars Joe Hart, Ashley Cole, Rio Ferdinand, John Terry, Johnson, Barry, Gerrard, and Rooney.