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May 14, 2014

Eriksson: Being England boss 'difficult'

FC's Steve Nicol reacts to Ashley Cole's twitter announcement that he will retire from England's squad.

Former England manager Sven-Goran Eriksson has told ESPN FC the job of managing the national side in a major tournament is "difficult" and praised current boss Roy Hodgson for picking a "young and fresh" squad.

Eriksson will reveal soon whether he is to return to coaching
Eriksson praised Hodgson's squad selection.

Brewin: Concerns remain
Palmer: Cole's belated respect

Eriksson, currently plying his trade in China with Guangzhou R&F, took the Three Lions to two World Cups in 2002 and 2006, reaching the quarterfinals at both competitions in what remain England's best showings since 1990.

The 66-year-old said he believed Hodgson's youthful selection had the ability to impress the world this summer, telling ESPN: "Managing England at a major tournament is difficult, definitely. However, I must say that it's a fantastic feeling to have the whole nation wanting you to do well and the players all definitely feel that support.

"That feeling will have started properly yesterday when the squad was named. They will all know that they are now almost there.

"I hope for all the players, and for the fans too, that England can get to the semifinal or the final. It will not be easy, of course, but he [Hodgson] has picked a very young and fresh team.

"It's an interesting selection, with some of the older players kept in and now joined by these new, younger players. I don't get to follow every game in English football any more so it's hard to comment, but I think it's very exciting."

Eriksson made one of the most surprising selections in England's World Cup history when he named the then 17-year-old Theo Walcott as part of his squad for the 2006 competition.

While there were no shocks of such magnitude in Hodgson's choice this time around, the decision to include Southampton's 18-year-old Luke Shaw has provoked contrasting opinions.

Shaw can point to two years of regular Premier League appearances and was recently named in the PFA's Premier League Team of the Year. But his inclusion has been at the cost of a place for long-serving defender Ashley Cole, who was given the first of his 107 caps by Eriksson in 2001 and has now quit international football.

"It's a pity," Eriksson said. "Ashley has been a fantastic player, and I believe he was the best left-back in England for many years. However, I know that he has not been playing that much for Chelsea recently -- and that is an important reason."

He tipped either Brazil or Spain to lift the trophy, explaining: "Brazil have a very good team, and will play at home where they will be very difficult to beat. However, Spain have been the best team in the world for a long time now, and they play at a very high level."

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