England boss Roy Hodgson upbeat despite tough draw

Lancashire Telegraph: Roy Hodgson Roy Hodgson

ENGLAND have been drawn in the group of death at next summer’s World Cup.

Roy Hodgson’s men will face Uruguay, Costa Rica and an Italy side who knocked them out of Euro 2012 in Group D.

England avoided becoming the European team placed in a special pot, who had to be drawn against a South American top seed.

However they ended up in the same group as Italy, who came out of the special pot, which meant the draw could hardly have been more difficult.

If the opponents themselves were not tough enough, the travelling involved and the tropical conditions at one of the venues makes it even harder.

Manaus, the venue for their opening game against Italy, is a five-and-a-half hour flight from Enngland's Rio base and is located in the Amazonian rain forest, with 99 per cent humidity.

Hodgson admitted he was not surprised to be given a tough section and, confirming England will stay in Rio, said the travelling could have been far worse.

“You are always hoping. But to be frank there weren’t many scenarios where I would have been jumping for joy,” he said.

“There were many when I would be thinking this is going to be very tough for us.

“To get one that is a bit tougher doesn’t surprise me at all because there is a lot of travelling to be done in most of the groups.

”Our great advantage is being based in Rio means we only have one long trip.

“If we had three games in the north it would have been difficult.

”There is no doubt the climate in the north for European teams is going to be tougher. In some ways we have to regard that as an advantage.

”I have never been to the Amazon. It will be a very interesting experience, not just for me but for the team.”

However, Hodgson is refusing to believe qualification will be a purely three-way battle between his own side, Italy and Uruguay, who were beaten in the semi-finals in 2010.

“It is going to be quite difficult to put a positive spin on the quality of our opponents, even Costa Rica might be the least known but they are a very strong team,” he said.

“I am still very positive about the whole affair.

”You just never know. You don’t look at football matches on paper and think we will win this one, draw this one and lose the other.

“Having at least two of the three games in a climate that might be a bit kinder to us is one of the things I was looking for.

“We are in an interesting group, there is no doubt about that. We have some top quality opponents so the three matches we play will be very exciting.”

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