England v Holland: Cautious Roy Hodgson keeps lid on outside pressures

Roy Hodgson is excited about England's potential but refuses to get carried away with back-to-back wins over Euro 2016 favourites France and Germany.

Captains run:James Milner, right, is joined by Harry Kane, centre, and Adam Lallana in a pre-match training session

Impressive progress has been made since their embarrassing World Cup exit, going through qualification for this summer’s tournament with a 100 per cent record and losing just one of 17 matches after returning from Brazil.

It is a fine run they will look to continue against Holland tonight – a friendly England approach buoyed by November’s win at home to France and, most impressively, last Saturday’s remarkable 3-2 comeback victory in the world champions’ backyard.

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England’s aptitude was as impressive as their attitude against Germany, leading to growing excitement and the odds of Euro 2016 glory to shorten – enthusiasm Hodgson shares, even if talk of success makes him uncomfortable.

When asked if he believes the Three Lions can go on and win the tournament, he said: “It’s the impossible question, isn’t it?

“Whatever I say, I am going to make headlines. If I say ‘yeah, I think we can win it’, then ‘Hodgson says we can win the Euros’.

“If I say ‘I think that’s going to be a tough ask, I think with this young team it’s too much to ask’ then ‘Hodgson has got no confidence in the team’.”

Pushed on the matter in the wake of the Germany triumph, Hodgson retorted: “They haven’t yet done it in a tournament.

“We still don’t really know... quite how they’re going to perform in tournament conditions against these much more experienced teams.

“Germany have already got experience of winning tournaments and reaching semi-finals, and France are the home nation, so the question still remains an impossible one to answer.

“I can only be boring and cliche-ridden in saying that I believe in the team. Absolutely.

“I believe we are going to be ready and I believe the players will go into games believing they can win them. And I believe they’ll go into the tournament believing they can do well but then for me to say this is what we’re going to do would be foolhardy and dishonest because I don’t know.”

Hodgson may not want to talk up England’s chances but they are fourth favourites to win a tournament that Tuesday’s opponents will not even be at.

Holland endured an abysmal qualifying campaign but Hodgson is still expecting a tough night at Wembley, where Danny Rose and the uncapped Danny Drinkwater will be amongst those trying to impress in England’s last match before the squad is announced on May 12. “It will be their last opportunity to do it in an England shirt in front of me, as manager of an England team,” said Hodgson.

“But there’s a lot of games left between now and the end of the season, there’s a lot of monitoring that we need to continue to do, in particular in their performances in their club teams.”

The immediate focus is, though, on overcoming Holland – a match they head will out for in a divisive new kit.

Nike’s away ensemble received a mixed reception following the Berlin encounter and a similar reaction is expected when the senior team wear the home strip – white with blue sleeves – for the first time tonight.

“As far as kits are concerned, there is only one thing that interests me: that is the person wearing the shirt,” said Hodgson. “After that, the quality of the kit.

“When it comes to colours and what colours the team should be playing in, that’s something I’m quite happy to leave that to the club I am working for – in this case the Football Association – and the sponsors, who often pay a lot of money to the club or the Football Association for them to wear the shirts.

“As long as I am happy with the players out there wearing the shirts and the players are happy with the quality of the shirt, I’m not prepared to enter into a debate as to colours and whether they’re the right ones or the wrong ones.

“Also, I’m perfectly happy to let everyone out there to have their opinions.”

The players were consulted on the kits and stand-in England captain James Milner is happy with the fit and quality.

“If we keep getting performances like we did the other day, I think we’ll be happy,” he said with a smile.

Milner admits it will mean everything to him to lead England out at Wembley for the first time when he captains the side tonight. The Leeds-born Liverpool midfielder, with 57 caps to his name, steps in with Wayne Rooney out injured and vice-captain Gary Cahill set to be on the bench having played in Saturday’s win over Germany.

Asked what it would mean to lead out the Three Lions, Milner said: “Everything. Obviously growing up you are desperate to pull on that England shirt and you are scoring goals for England at Wembley in your back garden and the chance to lead out your country is a massive honour and something you never forget.”