ENGLAND’S World Cup friendlies gave valuable lessons in handling South American-style aggression when the tournament starts in Brazil, coach Roy Hodgson said yesterday.
England beat Peru in London, drew 2-2 with Ecuador last week and 0-0 with Honduras on Saturday when captain Steven Gerrard described the Honduran tackling as horrific.
The two games produced three red cards with Raheem Sterling sent off against Ecuador for a wild challenge on Antonio Valencia, who was red-carded for his reaction.
Honduran Brayan Beckeles received his marching orders for two bookings, including one for catching Leighton Baines with his arm.
Hodgson said he was happy with the way England handled themselves.
England face three physical sides in Copa America champions Uruguay, Italy and Costa Rica, who were slammed for their approach to a friendly with Ireland which saw Kevin Doyle require stitches to a cut on his head and the player involved sent off.
England open their campaign against Italy in the heat of Manaus on Saturday.
“The whole idea of playing Peru, Ecuador and Honduras was to show us something very different,” Hodgson said.
“Had we played Sweden or Norway we’d know exactly what we’re going into, how those teams play and how they behave.
“The culture in these countries is different and we’ve had a nice little taste of it and, certainly, I was very pleased with the way the players kept their discipline, kept their shape.
“Sometimes in these games that frustration can lead to people doing silly things and you end up losing one.
“The players kept their cool very well,” said Hodgson, who is going to his second World Cup having guided Switzerland to the 1994 edition.
Gerrard’s Liverpool teammate Glen Johnson said that if their group opponents had been watching to assess who they could single out to provoke then they would have been disappointed.
“I think we proved they weren’t going to wind anyone up,” Johnson, who highlighted the Honduran game, said.
“There was a point when [Emilio] Izaguirre kicked the ball at Studge [Daniel Sturridge] when he was lying on the floor five seconds after the whistle had gone.
“That is when you might react but he didn’t. We kept our composure and showed we weren’t going to react to things. We are going to get all that in Brazil, so this was a useful practice. We are ready now,” Johnson said. – AFP