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Major League Soccer
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Hodgson calms Gerrard injury fears

The England team and FATV visit the Rocinha Sports Complex and try their hand at capoeira, a Brazilian dancing/fighting style.

England manager Roy Hodgson has dismissed reports that captain Steven Gerrard has a groin injury and his place against Italy in Manaus on Saturday could be in doubt.

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Recent speculation in the English media suggested Liverpool skipper Gerrard picked up the injury in England's final warmup game against Honduras in Miami last weekend.

But Hodgson, speaking at his first news conference in Rio de Janeiro, said: "I don't really understand that one.

"Yesterday we did a training session where the players who played [against Honduras on Saturday] did a warmdown session, and I worked with the nine who didn't take part.

"My understanding is that the other group did some extra work at the end of the session and there is absolutely nothing wrong with Steven -- so I didn't really understand that story at all."

Hodgson also offered an upbeat assessment of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain's recovery from a knee problem.

"He did very well," he said. "He was running, admittedly in straight lines. We will step up his training programme in the course of this week.

"There is no guarantee, but the medics are hoping that, by the second game [vs Uruguay on June 19], he could be fit."

The England boss said young players such as Everton's Ross Barkley and Arsenal's Jack Wilshere provided him with a welcome selection dilemma, but added: "I must advise some caution, because the players haven't had much chance in an England shirt to show they can realise that potential.

"Let's calm down before we say we have world-beaters because, to be a world-beater, you have to put an international shirt on and play very well.

"We have more pace, more mobility, a lot more technical players than a couple of years ago. There are very interesting times ahead, but in a World Cup we are also going to need our experienced players to help the young players."

Hodgson also dismissed reports that England had been keen to avoid playing in Manaus, where the humid conditions are set to offer a stern challenge to the English players this weekend.

"It is not true we complained about Manaus and Brazil, and that nonsense should be put to bed," he insisted.

"I am more than happy to be here for another World Cup. We are looking forward to playing in the World Cup, and will play in any city we are given."

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