World Cup 2014: England boss Roy Hodgson asks fans to believe

Roy Hodgson
Roy Hodgson has taken the second-youngest squad in England's history to the World Cup finals

England manager Roy Hodgson wants supporters to "believe" in his side's World Cup prospects as they prepare for their tournament opener against Italy.

The Three Lions, who reached round two in 2010, boast a young squad and have not reached the semi-finals since 1990.

"What we want from back home is support, encouragement, for people to believe," said Hodgson, 66.

"If it doesn't go that well for us, it's not for any other reasons than it didn't happen for us on the night."

Hodgson has previously played down expectations over his younger players insisting they must show more form in an England shirt before they can be viewed as "world beaters".

With an average age of 26, his 23-man group is the second-youngest to represent England in the tournament - a contrast to 2010 where former manager Fabio Capello selected the nation's oldest ever squad.

Hodgson, now more than halfway into his four-year contract, insists the current crop want to give fans "something they can believe in and cheer about".

He added: "There is nothing that would please us more than to give a performance that has everyone thinking 'this is terrific', 'what a good England team'. That's our only hope, our only goal."

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England face a challenge to reach the second round of the tournament, with former champions Italy and Uruguay in their group, and Saturday's meeting with Cesare Prandelli's Italy side will have the added obstacle of hot and humid conditions at the Arena Amazonia in Manaus.

Hodgson admitted he was experiencing a range of emotions as his side prepared to open their campaign.

"There is tension as without it, it would not be worthwhile. Games without it you don't remember but it's good tension," added Hodgson, who managed Switzerland at the 1994 World Cup.

"Of course there is always the anxiety that however much confidence you may have in the elements you control, it's that area you don't control - the misfortune, the bad luck or refereeing decisions - you're always anxious you can be unlucky."

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