England v Wales: No plan to kick Gareth Bale, says Roy Hodgson

By Phil McNultyChief football writer in Lens
Hodgson relishes 'spice' in Wales encounter
Euro 2016: England v Wales
Venue: Stade Felix Bollaert-Delelis, Lens Date: Thursday, 16 June Kick-off: 14:00 BST
Coverage: Live on BBC One, BBC Radio 5 live, BBC Radio Wales, the BBC Sport website and app.

England will not resort to a physical approach to combat Gareth Bale and his Wales team-mates in Thursday's Euro 2016 match, says boss Roy Hodgson.

In the build-up to the match, Real Madrid forward Bale quipped no England players would get in the Wales team, who he said had more desire.

Hodgson insisted England had not been interested in the words aimed in their direction from the Wales camp.

And he said Bale could "rest assured" that England "don't kick people".

Speaking in the pre-match media conference on Wednesday, Hodgson said: "I'll put a stop to all discussions and questions regarding what Gareth may or may not have said. I think they've had our answers.

"I don't want to keep batting away questions."

England drew 1-1 in their opening game against Russia, while Wales beat Slovakia 2-1.

"Our focus and our attention has been very much on trying to prepare for these three games," said Hodgson.

"This has always been the one where the mass media interest would be highest, simply because it's a game between two teams where most of the players play in the Premier League and Wales is another home nation.

"We have been talking about Wales as a team and a group of players in exactly the same way we had been talking about Russia. We know them better, of course, and they know us better, but there has literally been no difference in the way we would prepare."

England have been determined not to be drawn into a verbal battle, concentrating instead on recovering from a disappointing result despite a good performance in Marseille on Saturday.

Hodgson added: "I've not heard anybody in the squad make any reference whatsoever to any comments that have been made. Whenever you play any game of football you will either be classed as an underdog or a favourite, either by those outside or by yourselves.

"It doesn't make a ha'porth of difference and when that whistle blows we know what we have got to do and we think we'll be ready to do it. We'll be trying very hard to win the game and then afterwards it will probably all start again."

Hodgson defended Harry Kane and Raheem Sterling after their performances against Russia.

Tottenham striker Kane looked jaded, while Manchester City winger Sterling referred to himself as "#TheHatedOne" in a post on Instagram.

Asked whether Kane was struggling after a long Premier League season, Hodgson said: "I've got to say watching the training and even watching the games I haven't really had any severe doubts about that.

"Once again there is always going to be a situation after every game where players' performances are analysed and scrutinised. Some will get tremendous pats on the back and others will get fewer pats on the back.

"There were other players in the team the other night who have probably almost as much football as Harry and I don't know I particularly noticed them struggling in that way."

Hodgson also believes Sterling performed well in Marseille, saying: "Raheem's mental state is very good. I thought he played well.

"He's been as bright as a button in the training sessions we've been having and I thought his performance the other night was a good one. I thought he caused the Russians a lot of problems."

Meanwhile, England captain Wayne Rooney believes the team can challenge anyone if they can maintain their level of performance against Russia.

He said: "I think if we perform the way we did it will be difficult not just for Wales but for any team to stop us playing that way and winning games.

"We performed very well but only drew so that is something which we have to improve."

My combined England & Wales XI

Who would get in a combined XI from the England and Wales squads? Pick your XI - and then share it with your friends using our team selector.

Top Stories

Elsewhere on the BBC