We were caught short at the back, says England's Hodgson

Tue Nov 19, 2013 7:02pm EST
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By Mitch Phillips

LONDON (Reuters) - England, with all their technical shortcomings, have always relied on big center backs but that last bastion disappeared on Tuesday when Roy Hodgson blamed their 1-0 defeat by Germany on a lack of defensive height.

Per Mertesacker headed the only goal of the Wembley friendly in the 39th minute, moments after keeper Joe Hart kept out an almost identical effort from the same player, as England center backs Phil Jagielka and Chris Smalling were found wanting.

England lost 2-0 at home to fellow World Cup qualifiers Chile on Friday after their center backs and aerial defense were again repeatedly exposed and Hodgaon said he saw it coming.

"We knew corners were going to be a major problem, with the height of Mertesacker," the England manager told reporters. "Tonight we weren't at our tallest, unfortunately."

Hodgson rejected the suggestion, however, that the center -back position, traditionally an area of real strength for England, had become a problem since the disappearance of John Terry and Rio Ferdinand from the national team.

"I thought Gary Cahill and Phil Jagielka played well in the (World Cup) qualifying competition," he said. "I thought Chris Smalling played well, I don't think we were lacking in organization."

Hodgson could not hide the fact that England failed to muster a shot on target all night, even though Andros Townsend's sharp effort came back off a post.

"We didn't show the quality I was hoping we would show and create the chances our build-up deserved," said the England boss.   Continued...

Newly appointed England soccer manager Roy Hodgson poses for a photograph in the tunnel at Wembley Stadium in London May 1, 2012. REUTERS/Andy Couldridge/pool