Paris last-16 tie not England’s priority, says Hodgson

Saint-Étienne (France) (AFP) – England coach Roy Hodgson wants his side to beat Slovakia on Monday to set up a more forgiving path to the tournament’s latter stages and not just to secure a last-16 match in Paris.

Hodgson’s side need a point at Saint-Etienne’s Stade Geoffroy-Guichard on Monday to advance to the knockout phase.

Victory would send them through as winners of Group B and confirm a last-16 tie next Saturday at the Parc de Princes in Paris, which is close to England’s base in Chantilly.

But should England finish second in their pool they would have to play in Nice on June 27.

A defeat to Slovakia could mean a third-place finish and potentially a showdown against the winners of Group C, which could be world champions Germany, in Lille next Sunday. 

“The important thing is to win the group. If that means Paris, that’s good, but we don’t want to win because it’s closer to our base,” said the England manager.

“We want to win to face a third-placed, not a second-placed, team.

“It would only be a fortunate coincidence (to play in Paris), but it’s not affecting our thoughts.”

Hodgson refused to give any hint as to whether Jamie Vardy or Daniel Sturridge will start against Slovakia.

Vardy came on for the second half to equalise against Wales, while fellow substitute Sturridge scored the injury-time winner in a 2-1 victory.

Hodgson had said Harry Kane, who started against the Welsh, was a “little bit tired”, but the England manager has given no indication who will start in Saint-Etienne.

“I think the players are in good shape and I don’t think it will be a problem if I keep the same side, but I do have the options if I want to make changes,” he said.

“I don’t think he (Kane) is feeling the affects, I spoke to Harry, I don’t think he’s suffering more from the season than any other player.

“Jamie and Daniel did very well against Wales and I’m sure they would like another chance too. 

“It’s a decision which has to be made.”

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