Hodgson dishes on World Cup venues
England manager Roy Hodgson insists location rather than opposition is the biggest concern for him in the World Cup draw on Friday.
The English public will be crossing their fingers on Friday when the draw is made for next summer’s World Cup.
Given that England are not in the top-seven-ranked sides in the world, they will have to play one of the seeds like Brazil, Spain or Germany.
But Hodgson used a famous quote from the Oscar-winning actor Tom Hanks to sum up his phlegmatic position on potential opponents.
"It’s like Forrest Gump and his box of chocolates. We will open it up and see what we get," he said. "Then we will try and digest it."
It is not the prospect of facing one of the big names at the World Cup that is making Hodgson restless.
The former Liverpool manager is more concerned about the venues for England’s games, which will also be decided in Salvador, northern Brazil, on Friday.
The size of Brazil creates logistical problems in terms of travel for the 32 teams taking part. If you were to drive from the furthest venue in the north to the most southerly location, it would take you 53 hours.
But of greater concern to Hodgson is the difference in climate between the two ends of the country.
Rio de Janeiro, where England played in June, enjoys reasonable temperatures of around 25 degrees centigrade in the summer, but in Manaus – a city located right in the heart of the Amazon rainforest – temperatures soar way beyond 30 degrees and humidity levels can reach up to an almost unbearable 86 per cent.
"The venues we play in do worry me more than the opponents," the England manager said. "You always hope that the draw is going to be kind to you in terms of where you are going to be asked to play.
"There are venues in Brazil that will be harder to play in than others. Manaus will be a difficult venue for everyone, but for northern European players it will be a little bit harder. The tropicality of Manaus is the problem. You have a bit better chance if you get one of the venues where the climate is kinder.
"Manaus is the place ideally to avoid and Porto Alegre is the place ideally to get."
Although this will be Hodgson’s first World Cup in charge of England, he has experience of managing in the competition before – at USA ’94 with Switzerland.
There, his team limped out of the tournament, losing to Colombia in the energy-sapping 40 degree heat of Palo Alto, California.
"I’ve got to say our players struggled more than the Colombians," Hodgson added. "Everyone found it hard but we really did struggle."
Hodgson revealed how he plans to manage his squad in the all-important build up to the tournament.
He is keen for his squad to have a week off between May 12 and 19 before a week-long training camp – possibly in Europe.
Any players involved in the final of the Europa League or Champions League will miss out on the training camp.
The Three Lions will then play their farewell friendly at Wembley on May 29 before embarking on a two-game tour of the United States.
Five days before the tournament begins, they will fly to Brazil. In the unlikely event that England get to the final, they will spend 55 days together.
Rio’s crime levels mean England will not be able to walk about and mix with the public in the same way they did in Krakow at Euro 2012, increasing the chances of ‘cabin fever’ taking hold just like it did in South Africa.
England cricketer Jonathan Trott’s recent problems have highlighted how difficult it is to be away from your family for a prolonged time and Hodgson is aware of the issue.
Hodgson said: "I don’t know the details of the Trott situation but it doesn’t surprise me that players get stress-related problems because it’s a very stressful situation especially when you are representing your country and representing England in the Ashes. It’s not easy.
"We will do our very best to avoid that situation with our planning which will involve a lot of people, not least of all the players but a lot of them have experience of European Championships and World Cups."