ROY HODGSON has called on England to summon a performance of pride and character today after admitting their World Cup demise had plunged him into depths of despair he had never imagined possible.
The England coach will start the likes of Jack Wilshere, Ross Barkley and Luke Shaw in a much-changed line-up against Group D leaders Costa Rica before beating a despondent retreat from Brazil.
As Frank Lampard, who will skipper on the country on his 106th cap, called for his team-mates to show they are “men” and not “roll over,” Hodgson also underlined the importance to finishing the tournament on a positive note.
“When you’re at a World Cup and don’t reach your expectations and hopes and have to leave the tournament, then that final game is the one that leads you into the future,” said Hodgson.
“But we have a lot of time to think about the future.
“We have a long qualification campaign ahead. Euro 2016 is a long time away.
“For our young players there are two years of club and international football to be played. This is a game against the top team in the group, the team who have exceeded all expectations with their results and the quality of their football.
“We have to show we can compete with this team. And it’s a chance to show our fans that we still have a lot of pride in our performance.
“It’s a great opportunity for these players.
“I’m handing them an opportunity to go out on a fantastic stage and show they’re not only players of potential, but they are ready to play on this stage now and won’t let the team down.
“We’re very conscious that our fans are as disappointed and devastated as we are, but still supporting us. We had kind words in the hotel, and we want to make certain they see something that they can take some encouragement from.”
Hodgson took the unusual step of publicly naming his team and will make nine changes in all with the likes of Steven Gerrard and Wayne Rooney rested from the starting line-up.
The emphasis will be on the likes of Barkley and Wilshere to point the way forward and begin a healing process with Hodgson admitting the narrow defeat to Uruguay continues to weigh heavy.
“I’ve learned how painful it is to build up your hopes, to see a lot of good preparation proved to be to no avail because it didn’t get us where we wanted,” he said. “I’ve realised that, at this top level in a World Cup, it’s unforgiving. A moment really of sheer misfortune can throw everyone into a realm of despair that you didn’t know was possible.
“The game will tell me a lot about the players. It’s been a very tough few days and it’s hard to pick yourselves up for a game that, even if you do well in, serves no purpose.
“The 100 cap players will find that hard. We’ll learn a lot about the others. I’ve liked what I’ve seen around the hotel and in training.
“I’m now giving them the opportunity, not because I can, but because this is a good team on the field and they can go and win the game. I hope they prove me right.”