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Hodgson Challenges his Players to Win Euro 2016

Roy Hodgson

Roy Hodgson has challenged his England squad to "go up another level" and triumph at Euro 2016 next summer.

England can secure qualification when - rather than if, surely - they beat San Marino away on Saturday and if Slovenia then fail to beat Switzerland away the same evening which appears a likely scenario.

It means that England will have gone through from Group E, one of the weaker qualification groups, with a 100 per cent record so far and with three ties to spare -giving Hodgson even more time to prepare for France. They also face the Swiss at Wembley on Tuesday.

Hodgson knows that - with his contract running out next summer - his future as England manager will be decided by how the team performs in the finals.

The 22-man squad gathered at St??George's Park with Hodgson -deprived of key players such as

Jack Wilshere, Jordan Henderson, Fabian Delph and Adam Lallana in his midfield, as well as the likes of Danny Welbeck and Daniel Sturridge, which has led to a recall for Jonjo Shelvey three years after he earned his only cap so far - also against San Marino when he came on as a second-half substitute.

Shelvey, 23, revealed Hodgson's challenge to the squad in the team meeting. "He just said we can either go one way, keep winning and stay the way we are, or we can go up

another level in our performance," he said. "There's no reason why the England team with the players we've got in this country can't go to the European Champion-ship and win it. And that's what Roy Hodgson wants us to do and what we want to do.

"It was quite an upbeat meeting. He kept a few senior players behind afterwards to keep us in the unit meetings. He wants us to win and I'm sure we can."

The 'unit' meetings are something Hodgson has introduced - -dividing his squad into the units of defence, midfield and attack with a player from each of those areas chosen as a leader to pass on details to the others - since he was appointed as manager ahead of the last European Championship finals.

That tournament, in Poland and Ukraine, amounted to a 'free pass' for Hodgson given that he was brought in late following the resignation of Fabio Capello and only -after he had completed his club -season as head coach of West Bromwich Albion. Then, however, at the World Cup finals in Brazil in 2014 England failed to progress out of their group.

Martin Glenn, the Football Association chief executive, has made public the fact that Hodgson has to make a better fist of a tournament if he hopes to remain in his post -beyond next summer. If England again flop, Hodgson will be out.

Shelvey said that he had been spurred on by another challenge he has been set - by his club manager at Swansea City, Garry Monk, who accused the midfielder of being "lazy" and needing to "wise up" -after he was sent off against his former club Liverpool last Boxing Day. "It is either going to go one way or the other," Shelvey said of that rebuke. "You either just sit around and sulk on the bench or you get the bit between your teeth and really kick on and listen to what he has got to say. And I did that and that is paying off now."

Shelvey's involvement with England has been tainted by contro-versy with Hodgson having suggested previously that he was "reticent" about playing for the -under-21s.

"I can assure you that I have never refused to play for England in my whole life and if I did my dad [Ricky] would kill me," Shelvey said. "I remember what I think the mix-up was. When Gareth Southgate took over [as under-21 coach]... he made a phone call to me. We [Swansea] were playing a lot of Europa League games at the time and he said to me, 'By the time the Euros come around I don't expect you to be with the -under-21s. I expect you to be with the seniors.'

"And that is where it got mixed up I think, but then I got off the phone and sent a text to Gareth Southgate saying, 'If I am not [in the seniors] then I am available to play'. And I would never turn my back on my country. I always want to play and my dad would, literally, if I had hair he would rip it off. He is a big football man himself.

"As a boy you want to play for your country. I would never turn my back on my country and I get a bit of upset when it keeps getting mentioned in the press.

"I can assure you on my daughter's life that I have never ever refused to play for my country."

Nevertheless Shelvey admitted that he was no stranger to confrontation such as when, in 2012, he was at Liverpool and was sent off in a game against Manchester United and then involved himself in an ugly spat with Sir Alex Ferguson.

"I was a bit immature then and a bit silly, I pulled him aside afterwards and apologised to him and he was spot on with me, he said, 'No, I like it, it shows you've got a bit of balls about you' - but it was silly to do that, it's under the carpet," Shelvey said.

"I can understand why people don't like me. I'm a bit like Marmite, you either love me or hate me. But I don't have as many rows on the pitch as I did before. There's no need to row on the football pitch."

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