LONDON: England manager Roy Hodgson has not given up hope of persuading captain Steven Gerrard to lead the team in their quest to qualify for the 2016 European Championship.
Gerrard, 33, will captain England at this year’s World Cup in Brazil, which begins in June, and has declared that he will consider his international future after the tournament.
The Liverpool midfielder will be 36 by the time Euro 2016 starts in France, but Hodgson has not ruled out the possibility that he will still be turning out in the colours of his country.
“I don’t know that he necessarily couldn’t, absolutely,” Hodgson said.
“He’s 34 in May, so he’ll be getting on for 36 (when the tournament starts). I think a lot will depend on him and how he feels. It will depend upon how he’s playing.
“At the moment there’s been no slowing down in his play, but who knows what the future will bring? I don’t have a strong feeling about that, one way or another. Time will tell, basically.”
Gerrard has impressed in a holding role for Liverpool in recent weeks, with Jordan Henderson and Philippe Coutinho playing slightly in advance of him as part of a three-man midfield.
He has adopted a similar role on occasion for England, but Hodgson does not believe that playing in an apparently less labour-intensive position will necessarily increase his longevity as a player.
“These days, teams at that level of football, they have a degree of fluidity,” Hodgson said during a press briefing at Wembley Stadium.
“Even though when they’re putting the team-sheet up on the board, or it’s coming up on the TV screen showing you where players are, they’ve got him there and they’ve got Coutinho and Henderson in front of him, in reality that moves around quite a lot. Steven still gets forward, and Henderson drops in.
“In a player like Steven, who’s such an all-round player, wherever you play him, he’ll give you good attacking work and good defending work. Whether that spares him running or not, I don’t know. It’d be interesting to see.
“You’d have to compare with the sports scientists, when he was playing in one of these two positions -- when Lucas Leiva was playing (alongside him) -- how much running he did in that sort of right-half position and how much he’s doing in the central defensive midfield position.
“Sometimes you think he’s not doing as much there, but you might be surprised. It wouldn’t surprise me if the statistics made liars out of us.”
England will learn the identity of their opponents in Euro 2016 qualifying on Sunday, when the draw is made in the southern French city of Nice.
However, with the World Cup looming on the horizon, Hodgson admits that, although he will be present for the draw, it is not currently at the forefront of his thoughts.
“I think when you’ve got an important task ahead of you, and it doesn’t get much more important than taking England to the World Cup, it isn’t that easy just to split your mind and say, ‘Right, now I’m going to be 100 percent concentrated on that’,” he said.
“But to be honest, there’s not a lot to concentrate on. The draw will be what it is. We’ll get who we’ll get. But I’d definitely be lying if I said that my preparation for those (qualifying) games will start straightaway. It won’t.
“For me, my concentration will be 100 percent on the World Cup. The moment that ends, then I’ll hopefully move on. But that’s the only way I can do it. I can’t compartmentalise.” AFP