Roy Hodgson unapologetic over playing Daniel Sturridge in England game

Roy Hodgson has said he has no reason to apologise for gambling with Daniel Sturridge’s fitness for England, claiming he had not been unfair on the player and was entitled to “test his resolve a little bit”.

Brendan Rodgers, the Liverpool manager, has criticised Sturridge for playing in the friendly against Germany on 19 November and then returning to Anfield in a condition that meant the striker was left out of his club’s starting line-up for the Merseyside derby the following weekend.

Sturridge, who played for the whole 90 minutes against Germany, admitted having a thigh problem in the build-up to the 1-0 defeat at Wembley but Hodgson said he had no regrets making him play the full match.

“The good thing for me was that he did get out there. Daniel has pulled out of a few matches with us for injury reasons. He has been unlucky. It was important for me, if you like, to test his resolve a little bit.

“I suppose you could argue we did put his resolve to the test. I might have been guilty of that but I don’t apologise for it. I am delighted he did get out there, even though he maybe didn’t feel 100%, because that means in the future I will know I can trust him in an England team and he is not going to be playing when he feels like it – he is going to be playing when he’s fit.”

Sturridge is now facing a possible two months on the sidelines after damaging his ankle during a training session with Liverpool last Friday. “They are better [off] getting injured now,” Hodgson said of his own priorities, looking ahead to the World Cup next summer.

“The thing is, we played him because medical opinion told us [he could play]. There was nothing on the scans and I believe the [latest] injury was nothing to do with the injury he was complaining about.

“We wanted him out there and I think he wanted to play as well, so it was important. Daniel has burst on to the scene. We think he will be an interesting player but I don’t have many months ahead to sort that out. Had he pulled out and taken no part, there would have been one more game [before Hodgson names his provisional World Cup squad] and that would have been a bit strong.”

Hodgson, speaking at a Just Play event at Larkspur Rovers in Northolt to announce the renewal of the Football Association’s partnership with Mars, was asked whether he had any concerns about Jermain Defoe’s proposed move to Major League Soccer with Toronto.

“I would like to think it won’t be quite as simple as saying: ‘While you are in America you have no chance,’ But on the other hand I am not prepared to go down the other route and say: ‘If you go and play your football in America, you are still guaranteed a place on the plane.’ I just have to keep my powder dry and choose the best squad when it is time to announce it.”

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