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England deserve World Cup place, says Hodgson
Oct 06, 2013 2:01 PM EST
England manager Roy Hodgson believes his team deserve to be at Brazil 2014 despite failing to impress during qualifying.
Hodgson's men are in control of their fate ahead of their final two Group H matches – clashes at home against Montenegro on Friday and Poland on October 15.
England are a point clear atop the group and Hodgson said their efforts had been enough to win a place at next year's World Cup.
"At the moment these feel like the most important ones," Hodgson said.
"We have got to win these two matches because we want to be in Brazil and as an England team we think we deserve to be in Brazil.
"We're unbeaten and top of the group – it's up to us to make certain that we don't slip up and that we carry through our promise, which has been that we will be top of the group and qualify."
Hodgson defended goalkeeper Joe Hart, who was criticised by England assistant and television pundit Gary Neville for mistakes in Manchester City's 3-1 loss to Bayern Munich.
Hart was partly to blame for all three goals, but Hodgson said players understood Neville had a job to do.
"We and all the players understand that in his job he has to give honest comments," Hodgson said.
"He's being asked to give expert analysis and if something has gone badly wrong in the game, you can't expect him, just because he works for England, to start saying that the guy who had a bad game had a good game.
"The person who is the most critical of Joe's performance is Joe Hart – don't worry about that.
"Joe's not a fella to hide. If he concedes a goal that he thinks he could have stopped, the first person to put his hand up would be him. He won't have any problem with that whatsoever."