Hangeland backs Hodgson, EURO prep begins
Norway defender Brede Hangeland has praised new England manager Roy Hodgson ahead of their match in Oslo on Saturday.
Fulham star Hangeland believes Hodgson can oversee a strong campaign for the Three Lions in the forthcoming UEFA EURO 2012 after working under the 64-year-old at both Craven Cottage and Norwegian side Viking.
"At Fulham, West Brom and various other jobs he's done, he's proven that his teams are really hard to play against and really well organised," he said. "If he can do the same with the England team, with all their strong players, they should be strong at the European Championships.
"His most important task will be to get everyone to pull in the same direction. If he can do that, they can be a really strong team. He is a good choice from the FA."
England will be without a number of players for the trip to Oslo and Hodgson will get a chance to see some of his squad and stand-by players in action.
No risks for Republic
Republic of Ireland welcome Bosnia-Herzegovina to the Aviva Stadium with manager Giovanni Trapattoni confirming Sunderland midfielder James McClean will be handed his international debut.
Trapattoni will have to cope without key members of his squad for the match, however, with Shay Given, Richard Dunne, Sean St Ledger and John O'Shea all likely to miss out.
Aston Villa goalkeeper Given is believed to be keen to pick up his 122nd international cap but Trapattoni is unwilling to risk him and, with Paul McShane drafted into the squad, the other injured players will also sit out.
"I think he [Given] wishes to play, but if he wishes and he has a problem..." said Trapattoni. "Our EUROs begins in Poland, not at the Aviva or in Hungary. Now we have called up Paul McShane and, in this game, maybe Dunne won't play. He said to me he can be ready for Hungary - the same also for St Ledger."
Also on Saturday, Switzerland coach Ottmar Hitzfeld will face his native Germany as he prepares his squad for an assault on the FIFA World Cup™ qualifiers after they failed to reach EURO 2012.
"This is an emotional game, a highlight," he said on facing Germany. "The Germans will be motivated because they want to impose for the European Championship. We will prepare meticulously in the next months in order to qualify for Brazil."
Defending European champions Spain face a tricky friendly against Serbia and Manchester City midfielder David Silva, who has been likened to Lionel Messi by national coach Vicente del Bosque, expects a tough test.
"Yesterday we saw a video, Serbia is a dangerous team and they like to attack a lot, but we do not know whether to play the same game. If they are not organised at the back, we can benefit," he said.
"[Being compared to Messi is not] pressure it is a compliment. Messi is the best player in the world and by saying that, Del Bosque helps me to continue work and continue my game and adapt it to the national team. I want to do my bit."
Other friendly fixtures
Saturday's other matches see Denmark face Brazil, EURO co-hosts Poland entertain Slovakia and Bulgaria travel to the Netherlands. Portugal are also in action against FYR Macedonia while the Czech Republic play Israel and EURO 2004 winners Greece face Slovenia.
France are the only EURO 2012 side in action on Sunday, when they face Iceland, and coach Laurent Blanc is hoping to progress further than in recent competitions. "Being present in the quarter-finals, this is the first objective of the staff," he said.
"After what happened in 2010, the goal is to be in the quarter-finals. I remind you that during the last two international competitions, France has not passed the first round - there will be many things to do. It will be organised and we will maintain schedules. But nothing changes. We will try to prepare the match against Iceland."