Hodgson believes it's a crucial time for EURO 2016 hopefuls

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

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(Getty) Source: Getty Images

A double-header against FIFA World Cup holders Germany in Berlin on Sunday morning (AEDT) and Netherlands at Wembley on Wednesday morning (AEDT) 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 Germany, while there are a number of other players looking to assure themselves of a place in the reckoning.

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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, having only warmed up with the squad before training alone on the eve of the clash.

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 the same time we take the game very seriously and I shall learn some important lessons I'm sure.

"I can't guarantee that every single player will get 90 minutes in a game but, at the same time, in principle 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 City top of the Premier League table, but upset a number of fans who believe West Ham United 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 the territory of managing a national side - comparing the furore to that for public calls for then-Norwich City striker Grant Holt to be capped after some impressive displays for the Canaries.

"The fact is there are always two or three players that are in the news that many people would like to be selected or are better than the players I have selected, that is the nature of my job," he added.

"I have said on many occasions that 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.

"We have only got 23 places, 20 outfield players, we can't unfortunately cap every player. Before the World Cup it was Grant Holt, so there is always somebody."

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

Security measures ahead of the match remain unchanged, and Hodgson says he and his players will remain focused on their football.

"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.

"I don't think we can do very much more than to trust their methods to dealing with security problems, and the measures they put in place will be sufficient for us to be able to play the game in the secure way we would love to play the game.

"It is not something we discuss, we keep our discussions to the tactics and the way we would like to play and then we just have to trust in the measures and methods in terms of security."

Hodgson went on to confirm both England and Germany would wear black armbands for their match at the Olympiastadion in memory of Johan Cruyff.

The former Netherlands international and Barcelona boss passed away on Thursday after losing his battle with cancer and Hodgson paid his respects to Cruyff at his press conference.

"Whenever a legend passes away it's a sad day for football," he said.

"The word 'legend' is used far too flippantly, too glibly these days, but Johan was one.

"He was a great coach too. In my short meetings with him I found him a fascinating man to listen to."


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5 min read
Published 26 March 2016 at 5:10am
By Mark Bryans
Source: PA Sport