Roy Hodgson defends England display in front of record low crowd

Wayne Rooney celebrates his match winning penalty last night

Wayne Rooney celebrates his match winning penalty last night

First published in International

An irritated Roy Hodgson denied his team had under-performed in their 1-0 win over Norway, which came in front of a record low crowd at Wembley.

Just 40,181 turned up to the national stadium last night to watch England register the narrowest of wins thanks to Wayne Rooney, who scored the winning penalty a day after being branded "chubby" by Norway's ex-Saints defender Vegard Forren.

It was the lowest England crowd at the new Wembley, one that proved public interest in the team is at a low ebb thanks to their winless and joyless World Cup campaign.

Those who bought their discounted tickets will have largely been unhappy with the first-half display, which saw England fail to test the Norwegian goalkeeper.

Hodgson, who has never been fan of statistics, was annoyed when it was put to him that his team had registered just two shots on target in the whole match.

"Two shots on target? Don't give me that one," the England manager snapped.

"What about all the ones they (the Norway players) threw themselves in front of (the ball)?

"Don't hit me with statistics. When we had that much possession, and you talk about two shots on target.

"I thought the performance was quite good.

"I was pleased with the first half, we probed well, put in some good movements.

"I was disappointed with the start of the second half when we didn't do anything like as well for the first 15 minutes, but then we changed things, changed the formation slightly, and finished the game strongly."

Hodgson admits he has his work cut out if he is to get the nation behind the team again.

"I think you'll find we'll find it hard to bring attendances back to very high levels because of the opponents we're playing, they won't be exciting the public," said the former Liverpool boss, whose next home game will come on October 9 versus San Marino.

"They're not the teams that normally attract full houses. But if the team works as hard as they did tonight, show the appetite and desire, and the aggression in the defending, show the exciting moves that were there for all to see, they'll come back."

Hodgson will need an improvement from his team if they are to start their European Championship qualifying campaign with a win in Switzerland on Monday.

Gary Cahill needed ice on his right foot after coming off in the 84th minute, but he will be fit to face the Swiss.

"There shouldn't be any doubt about him playing on Monday," Hodgson said of the Chelsea defender.

Jack Colback will have to wait for his international debut, though, as he has had to withdraw from the squad because of a calf injury suffered in Newcastle's 3-3 draw against Crystal Palace last weekend.

Hodgson said: "He's had to leave us. We worked with him. He had a very nasty kick to the back of his calf and we were hoping it'd settle down and he be able to train, but he can't do that. It's going to take a bit longer, so we've sent him back to Newcastle to work on that."

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