England v Slovenia: Hodgson says Euro 2016 win all that matters

By Phil McNultyChief football writer in Ljubljana
England manager Roy Hodgson
Roy Hodgson's England are unbeaten in nine matches since last summer's World Cup
Euro 2016 qualifier: Slovenia v England
Date: Sunday, 14 June Venue: Stozice Stadium, Ljubljana Kick-off: 17:00 BST Coverage: Listen on BBC Radio 5 live, live text commentary on BBC Sport website

England manager Roy Hodgson says he is not worried about their performance in Slovenia as long as they win.

Hodgson's side are looking to make it six wins out of six in their Euro 2016 qualifying campaign on Sunday.

Despite a dismal display in the draw with the Republic Of Ireland, Hodgson says he is more interested in victory than putting on a show in Ljubljana.

"We are concentrating on breaking them down, scoring goals and - if I'm brutally honest - winning," he said.

"I'd take a show or a lucky victory. At the end of the day winning or not getting beaten are the important factors."

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Hodgson must decide whether to play Liverpool's out-of-sorts Raheem Sterling, subject of a £25m bid from Manchester City, or Arsenal's Theo Walcott as he tries to enliven England's attacking options.

England's lifeless effort in Dublin was high on the agenda as Hodgson was questioned and he said: "These things do happen. Did I enjoy the game? No. Did I think we played well? No. Did the players? No.

"But it's one of 1,300 games for me and one of 600 for Wayne Rooney. We will benefit from that game. We probably needed it, a lot more than I realised perhaps."

England are top of Group E with five wins out of five and if they avoid defeat against Slovenia - 48th in the Fifa rankings - it will be the first time since 1990-91 that they will have gone an entire season unbeaten, winning seven games and drawing two since the World Cup in Brazil.

Raheem Sterling and Wayne Rooney
Wayne Rooney expects a "good performance" from Raheem Sterling against Slovenia

But Hodgson admits he hopes for an improvement on the fare offered up against the Republic, saying: "That break between the end of the season and the Republic game coming was very useful for us.

"Maybe we'd have given the wrong performance in the important game if we'd not had that game and just trained on. I'm sorry - but we'll try to do better next time."

All eyes have been on 20-year-old Sterling since he was jeered by Irish fans in Dublin and the scrutiny has only increased with Liverpool's rejection of Manchester City's offer - although they are expected to return with an improved bid soon.

But England captain Wayne Rooney does not expect off-the-field events to have any impact on Sterling's performance if he is selected in Slovenia.

Rooney said: "I think Raheem is a top-quality player and of course there is a lot of speculation around his future at the minute.

"But I am sure that is something himself and his management will have to deal with after the game.

"Hopefully whatever he chooses to do gets sorted out soon. I think, as with any footballer, at some stage in your career they'll experience criticism but Raheem is a level-headed lad, a top-quality player and I am sure he will give a good performance."

Sterling's Liverpool team-mate Adam Lallana, who will also be hoping to start in Ljubljana, also believes the forward will not be affected by the current speculation - and hopes he will eventually decide to stay at Anfield.

"Honestly, Raheem is absolutely fine," said Lallana. "He is a great lad and, for me, people talk too much about him. He is a really down-to-earth lad and I just hope he stays at Liverpool because he is a fantastic player and a good friend."

Hodgson may be tempted to give Tottenham's Andros Townsend a start, perhaps ahead of Lallana, as reward for someone who has become a trusted figure for the manager and who gave a reminder of his quality with a spectacular equaliser in the 1-1 draw with Italy in Turin in March.

Arsenal's Kieran Gibbs is favourite to get the nod ahead of Ryan Bertrand at left-back while the words of Rooney and Hodgson suggest the England boss is ready to keep faith with the unsettled Sterling.

England's results in 2014-15
7 June, 2015Republic of Ireland (A)D 0-0Friendly
31 March, 2015Italy (A)D 1-1Friendly
27 March, 2015Lithuania (H)W 4-0Euro 2016 qualifier
18 November, 2014Scotland (A)W 3-1Friendly
15 November, 2014Slovenia (H)W 3-1Euro 2016 qualifier
12 October, 2014Estonia (A)W 1-0Euro 2016 qualifier
9 October, 2014San Marino (H)W 5-0Euro 2016 qualifier
8 September, 2014Switzerland (A)W 2-0Euro 2016 qualifier
3 September, 2014Norway (H)W 1-0Friendly