Ljungberg understands Carroll inclusion

Freddie Ljungberg

Freddie Ljungberg

First published in International

Former Sweden star Freddie Ljungberg can understand why Roy Hodgson is set to hand Andy Carroll his first competitive England start tonight.

Although he initially suggested there would be no changes from the team that drew with France in England's Euro 2012 opener on Monday, it appears Hodgson is going to swap things around.

By introducing Carroll for Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Hodgson would be hinting at a more direct approach, aimed at exploiting unusual Swedish fallibility in the air.

Six of the past seven goals conceded by Erik Hamren's men have been headers, including two for Andriy Shevchenko when they lost to co-hosts Ukraine earlier this week.

Ljungberg, who won 75 caps during a 10-year international career, does not understand why Sweden should suddenly have a problem in that department.

However, speaking to publicise McDonald's Player Escort Programme in Kiev today, the 35-year-old feels Hodgson's stance is perfectly reasonable.

"They are putting Carroll in to exploit a problem for Sweden," said Ljungberg.

"Out of the last 11 goals Sweden have conceded, seven have been headers, and it is something like six of the last seven. It shouldn't be like that.

"When I was playing Sweden's strength was being solid at the back and good in the air so it is a bit of a surprise they conceded so many goals in that way.

"But because they have, I completely understand the reasoning behind Hodgson's tactics."

Ljungberg was part of the Swedish generation that never lost to England, including meetings at both the 2002 and 2006 World Cup.

That record was lost when the Three Lions finally emerged victorious thanks to Gareth Barry's deflected first-half header at Wembley in November.

England have still never beaten Sweden in a competitive game though.

And as Ljungberg does not view this England team as being particularly strong, he is optimistic that record will continue.

"I think both sides will be a little bit cautious," he said. "Sweden didn't have a great result against Ukraine and whilst England defended very well against France you didn't see their offensive strengths.

"Overall I can see two wary teams going on the field. England are not assuming they are going to win as they normally do.

"Maybe that will work in their favour because they won't feel so much pressure and they can relax a little bit.

"But there is no doubt in my mind the team is not as strong as those in the past so Sweden have a good chance."

Freddie Ljungberg was speaking at the McDonald's UEFA EURO 2012(TM) Player Escort event ahead of Sweden vs England in Kiev. McDonald's is providing 682 children across Europe with a once in a lifetime opportunity to walk out hand in hand with their football heroes at every UEFA EURO 2012(TM) match, to find out about more Player Escort opportunities please visit www.mcdonalds.co.uk/kickstart

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