LONDON (dpa) – England begin a crucial double-header of Euro 2016 qualifiers on Thursday focused only on results.
While a trip to Estonia on Sunday could prove tricky, the minnows of San Marino are not expected to put up much of a fight when they come to Wembley on Thursday.
England put 13 goals past San Marino when they played them home and away in qualifying for the 2014 World Cup.
But even if San Marino’s track record suggests England should enjoy plenty of goals, manager Roy Hodgson simply wants two wins out of two as they look to maintain their 100 per cent start to Group E, following a 2-0 in Switzerland.
“For me it’s about winning the games,” said Hodgson, who will be without leading striker Daniel Sturridge through injury.
“It would be nice to win them and score goals – we scored 13 against San Marino last time but I don’t remember getting a great deal of praise or satisfaction about that.
“At the end of the day I would take a much more sanguine approach. If we get the six points, the number of goals we score will be much less important than the points or the performances of the players.
“I can envisage two matches where the teams will be very well-organised and not easy to break down, they will get a lot of players behind the ball.”
Despite the absence of Sturridge, England have plenty of firepower and will look to captain Wayne Rooney and his former Manchester United team-mate Danny Welbeck for goals.
“I see us creating a lot of chances but I can’t give you a guarantee we’ll take them all,” Hodgson said.
“We did in San Marino but then we went to Montenegro and drew and we didn’t play anywhere near as well.
“There will be absolutely no complacency as we chase the six points, which would mean an excellent start to this new campaign.”
Rooney will captain the side again and will be looking for more goals to edge his total of 41 ever closer to the all-time England record of 49, held by Bobby Charlton.
“I want him to score as many goals as possible,” Hodgson said. “But I’m not going to go down the road of saying it’s all about goals. It’s all about victories.
“But of course it will be good for his confidence (if he does).” Welbeck, too, will be hopeful of more goals after settling in well since his summer move to Arsenal.
Hodgson is likely to retain the centre back partnership of Gary Cahill and Phil Jagielka, while teenager Luke Shaw could also start at full back.
In their opening 2-0 win in Switzerland, Hodgson employed a 4-4-2 diamond formation and the manager said he would do so again, if he felt it necessary.
“I would hope the players will be flexible and intelligent enough to be able to vary,” the manager said.
“I wouldn’t like to think we are going to be 100 per cent hung up on whatever you like to call ‘systems’.