Unbeaten in four games as England manager, Roy Hodgson knows his team will qualify for the UEFA EURO 2012 quarter-finals if they extend that record against Ukraine on Tuesday. The 64-year-old tells UEFA.com about his satisfaction at defeating Sweden and the "big boost" he expects from Wayne Rooney's return at the Donbass Arena.
UEFA.com: How pleased were you with the spirit against Sweden?
Roy Hodgson: I was very satisfied with the way we played in the first half. After a bad spell at the start of the second half, when we found ourselves 2-1 down, I was really more than satisfied with the way we came back at the Swedes and scored the two goals which gave us the victory.
UEFA.com: How concerned were you by the manner in which England conceded the two goals?
Hodgson: You're always disappointed to concede from set plays. It's not something we're renowned for. I thought we were a bit unlucky with the first one. It was a ricochet. The ball hit the wall then rebounded into the path of [Olof] Mellberg, who struck it against another of our players. The second one was more of a tactical situation where we allowed Mellberg to get a free header at the back post. We're obviously not satisfied with that. On the other hand, we're pretty dangerous from set plays ourselves and I suppose sometimes I have to accept that against a team of Sweden's quality, in terms of height and set-play delivery, you're always going to be in danger.
UEFA.com: How much of a boost will it be to have Rooney back?
Hodgson: It'll be a big boost. He's trained very well, he's been very positive in this camp so far and it's been a source of frustration for him that he's not been able to get on the field to help his team-mates out. Now he's got the chance to do it and we're hoping he's going to be an important figure for us when we play Ukraine, because that's going to be another tough game.
UEFA.com: You've played in Donetsk before with Fulham FC and managed to stifle the vociferous home support. How are you planning on doing so again with England?
Hodgson: The only way you can stifle crowds is to play well and make certain the opponents don't get their noses in front or their tails up. That's what gets the crowd really excited and gives the players the extra boost they need. We have to make certain we defend well and keep them as far away from our goal as possible. Even more importantly, we've got to start causing them problems and asking questions of their defence.
UEFA.com: What have you made of Ukraine so far?
Hodgson: Ukraine have done well. France beat them, but I watched the first half when Ukraine dealt with the French attacks quite well. Obviously the Ukrainians have beaten the Swedes, which is never an easy thing to do, so we're aware of the fact we're playing against not only a host nation, with the support that brings, but also against a bona fide good football team with a lot of quality players and experience. It's up to us now to try and find the antidote.
UEFA.com: Theo Walcott came on against Sweden and changed the game. How much of an impact can he have against Ukraine?
Hodgson: He can certainly have an impact because he's got pace and ability. Players who have pace and ability and the desire to run past defenders, both with or without the ball, are difficult to mark and difficult to deal with. Our worry is he might not be fully fit, so we have to see what happens in the next 36 hours. Hopefully he'll have recovered from the minor injury he suffered.
UEFA.com: A point will take England through. Does that affect your preparations?
I've never really understood how you play for a draw. I think to play for a draw is dangerous if it means allowing the opponents to have the initiative and you just try and camp somewhere deep in your half. When you do that, you're inviting them into your penalty area all the time and, as we saw the other night, it doesn't have to be a good ball in that costs you a goal.
The good thing is that knowing a draw will suffice is a little bit easier than knowing you've got to win. Sometimes, if you go a goal down when you know you've got to win, you throw caution to the wind and leave yourself very exposed. If we've got an advantage then it is that the opponents have to take the risk the longer the game goes on and we'll have opportunities on the counterattack.
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