World Cup

(CNN) — England may play host to the world’s most lucrative football league but the country’s national team is facing a fight to compete on the biggest stage of all.

With just two months until the 2014 World Cup kicks off in Brazil, England manager Roy Hodgson laid bare the nature of his problems for picking a squad capable of challenging in South America.

While the Premier League has gone from strength to strength and attracted some of the world’s most famous players, English football has stood still.

The Three Lions has only reached the semifinals once since winning the World Cup on home soil in 1966.

Speaking at a news conference at Wembley Stadium, Hodgson revealed he may be forced to pick players who have not appeared regularly for their club sides this season — claiming nearly 30% of his squad will consist of “players who when you see their names, won’t be regular players in their first team and certainly won’t be first names on the team sheet.”

He added: “If you go back a long time, that would have been unthinkable.

“In my youth, it would have been unthinkable for anyone to play for England who wasn’t a complete and utter star in his own team.”

According to a survey recorded last season, just over a third of all players in the Premier League are eligible to represent England.

The pool of players available to Hodgson has shrunk further following injuries to Arsenal’s Theo Walcott and Southampton’s Jay Rodriguez, who are both expected to miss the tournament.

And while the talented trio of Everton’s Ross Barkley, Liverpool’s Raheem Sterling and Southampton’s Luke Shaw have all recently emerged, Hodgson accepts that England may have to get used to its younger players being left out in the cold.

“It’s a bit of a transitional period and it’s something us in England will have to get used to because some of the best players that we have as young players are at the top clubs,” he added.

“Because they’re at the top clubs in the country, they’re competing with the very best that the foreign market can sell to us.

“It’s harder for them because they’re competing with other world stars.”

England was heavily criticized for its poor showing in South Africa four years ago after going out in the second round following a humiliating defeat by Germany.

Fabio Capello, who coached that particular team, told CNN last month that England will never succeed at the World Cup because its players play too many games.

While Hodgson accepts that Capello’s assertion has some truth, he refuses to accept that tiredness will derail his team’s chances of success in Brazil.

“Of course, you can’t say he (Capello) is wrong in saying that but it’s a fact of life we can do nothing about,” Hodgson told CNN.

“Tournaments are played in the summer and played very, very quickly after a long season ends. We also cannot deny that the Premier League is a more intensive league than many others –it’s probably the most if I’m brutally honest.

“We’ve got that problem to deal with but all we can do is to accept it and try not to use it as an excuse.

“We will try to do everything we can during our time together to make sure we don’t treat everybody the same.

“Perhaps if a player has played more games than another or a bit more tired than another then maybe we can take that into account.

“But having said that, I’m pretty certain that’s been done in the past as well. There’s no guarantee that will be the ultimate solution — but it’s the only thing we can do.”

The-CNN-Wire
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