LONDON, March 9 — England manager Roy Hodgson has told striker Daniel Sturridge that he must be prepared to adapt his game if he wants to play an important role at the World Cup.
Sturridge scored the only goal of the game as England beat Denmark 1-0 at Wembley Stadium earlier this week in their final friendly match before Hodgson names his 23-man squad for the tournament in Brazil.
It took his tally of goals to 12 in his last 13 matches for club and country, but the 24-year-old found himself deployed in a slightly different position to the one he usually adopts with Liverpool.
Selected in a fluid front three alongside Wayne Rooney and Raheem Sterling, he started the game wide on the left and at one point in the first half tracked Denmark right-back Lars Jacobsen all the way back to the England byline.
During his time at former club Chelsea, Sturridge complained about being asked to play wide, although he said after the game against Denmark that he would be happy to play anywhere for England.
Explaining the configuration of the England attack, Hodgson said: “We wanted to get the three of them on the field, we wanted flexibility.
“We made it clear to all three players that we didn’t want to stamp their feet in one position, so that this one’s got to play down the left channel, this one’s got to play down the right channel.
“There might come times in games where we’re not doing very well or we’ve lost the ball and we need help, and I shall be expecting anybody to be putting the effort in to help us out.
“Just because he (Sturridge) happens to be a goal-scorer or a forward, doesn’t preclude him from coming back and doing a bit of a job and helping out. But it certainly wasn’t the plan that he would support the full-back.”
Lallana’s ‘fantastic impact’
Sturridge and Sterling were two of five Liverpool players in the starting XI and Hodgson admitted he was eager to harness the momentum that has seen the Merseyside club mount a renewed challenge for the Premier League title in recent weeks.
“It’s not surprising that Liverpool probably have been the form team in the last few weeks and have been getting enormous praise for their performances,” said the England manager.
“As a result, people like Jordan Henderson, Raheem Sterling, Daniel Sturridge, they’ve been getting terrific headlines alongside the more experienced Glen (Johnson) and the magisterial (Steven) Gerrard.
“It’s good sometimes that you can give them a chance to show what they can do for England in a similar sort of environment and we did have that thought in our mind.”
Hodgson had warm words of praise for Southampton midfielder Adam Lallana, who may have booked his ticket to Brazil with a lively second-half cameo that included the assist for Sturridge’s 82nd-minute goal.
“To be fair to some of the other players, he did have a fantastic impact, he played very well, but he did come on at a time when we were very dominant and where our play had worn down the opposition a little bit,” Hodgson said.
“But that’s not to denigrate his performance or play it down in any way. He was faultless and what’s more, he gave that incredible energy.”
Hodgson also had a warning for the senior players on the fringes of his squad, declaring that he will not take players to the World Cup out of loyalty alone.
“People will have to accept that it will be my job to pick the best 23, the best balanced 23, and I’ve got to do it on the merits of the players,” he said.
“It’s not going to be like sometimes it’s been in the past, that loyalty can be rewarded. It’s got to be a question that if you’re on that plane, it’s because I believe you’ve really got a role to play and I can justify it to myself.” — AFP