Roy Hodgson, the England manager, has said he is not concerned about his side’s discipline ahead of their World Cup qualifier with Montenegro on Tuesday.
On England’s last visit to the country, striker Wayne Rooney lost his cool to get sent off – a dismissal that resulted in him missing the first two games of last summer’s European Championships.
With the stakes high tomorrow night – Montenegro will be five points clear with a victory – questions have been asked of England’s ability to keep it together, but Hodgson has no such concerns.
“Our disciplinary record [in qualifying] has been outstanding,” he told a pre-match media conference.
“We talk about discipline and tactical discipline leads to personal discipline. The players are aware of it.
“When you play in big matches for club or country and you’re one of the experienced players, you are always under the responsibility to play well and be the leader everyone expects you to be.
“We have those players and they want to take that responsibility. It’s not something I need to preach.
“On nights like this, our big players need to make sure they’re on form and do what we expect them to do.”
A draw would not be a disastrous outcome for England and it has been suggested in some quarters that they could set out with the ambition of getting a point.
Hodgson, though, wants to go for the win.
“To play for a draw you would need to see a video before the game of how it is going to turn out,” he said.
“The aim is to go out and attempt to win the game. We came here in good spirits and sometimes you get a point when you don’t deserve one, sometimes you get one when you deserve more.
“We have attacking qualities and will be trying to use them. We don’t play for a draw.”
Hodgson also responded to pre-match comments made by his Montenegro counterpart Branko Brnovic, who suggested England might buckle under the pressure of having to win to oust the lower seeds from top spot in qualifying Group H.
“I think it’s definitely mind games but I don’t really have an opinion on that,” Hodgson added. “I was surprised that he thinks a defeat won’t hurt Montenegro.
“Coaches normally feel that defeats hurt them on all levels in football. If he’s suggesting that we should accept the burden of being favourites for the game then we’ll accept it.
“We’re confident and we think we’ve got good players so we’ll accept that responsibility.
“It’s what happens during the 95 minutes tomorrow night that’s decisive anyway so what people say beforehand doesn’t make a great deal of difference. It’s what the players do.”