Hodgson not taking Estonia lightly

Published: Friday 10th October 2014 by The News Editor

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Roy Hodgson has warned England not to expect another walkover when they face Estonia in Tallinn on Sunday.

England maintained their perfect start to Euro 2016 qualification with a 5-0 victory over San Marino on Thursday night.

Although it was not quite the goal-fest some had predicted, the comprehensive win was never in doubt because of a complete lack of adventure from part-timers San Marino – the lowest-ranked team in the world.

Hodgson is convinced Estonia will put up a far tougher test this weekend.

The Baltic nation are ranked 92nd in the world and, unlike San Marino, their players ply their trade professionally across Europe.

Estonia would have qualified for the last European Championship had they not lost their play-off against the Republic of Ireland, so Hodgson is wary of the test they will pose at the A. Le Coq Arena.

“I would be a bit wary of putting Estonia in the same category as San Marino,” the England manager said.

“They might surprise people who haven’t seen a lot of them.

“They’re very Scandinavian in their approach, and you know how good the Swedes, Norwegians and Danes have been in terms of work ethic and organisation.

“It will be a bit of a test, but I’m very confident we’ll see it through.”

The England players only had to look at the results around the rest of Europe on Thursday to be reminded of the old cliche that there are no easy games in international football – unless they come against San Marino.

Spain suffered a shock 2-1 defeat to Slovakia while, in England’s group, there was another surprise when rivals Switzerland lost to Slovenia.

Captain Wayne Rooney was keen therefore to remind his team-mates they must not be complacent when they travel to Estonia.

“We have seen what’s happened with the other results again tonight,” Rooney said after the San Marino win.

“Sunday is an important game. We are looking forward to it.

“It will be a tough game, we understand that, but we are confident at the moment and we believe we can go there and win.”

England have won both their previous meetings with Estonia, which came in 2007.

Suspension ruled Rooney out of the away game, but he returned for the home qualifier, and scored England’s second goal.

Rooney has scored 29 more England goals since that night, which means he is now just seven short of Sir Bobby Charlton’s all-time record.

The Manchester United striker is well aware he is within touching distance of making history, but he would prefer to keep it at the back of his mind.

“I try not to (think about it) but you guys (the media) keep bringing it up,” Rooney said with a smile.

“It’s there and it’s reachable for me but I have always said these two games are about the team winning and if I can get the goals to help me beat that record then I would be delighted, a proud man, but I am focused on getting the wins.”

Rooney and his team-mates went through a warm-down session in Hertfordshire on Friday, 24 hours before they travel to Estonia.

Around 1,250 England supporters are expected to attend the match in the former Soviet state.

Despite initial fears of a low turn out at Wembley, 55,990 fans showed up for Thursday’s match, which pleased Rooney.

He said: “The support we have from the fans is amazing, and on behalf of the team I would like to thank the fans for coming out in big numbers (on Thursday night).”

Published: Friday 10th October 2014 by The News Editor

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