Hodgson: Good start important

Hodgson: Good start important

England manager Roy Hodgson believes it is vital to get off to a positive start in their opening 2014 World Cup qualifier against Moldova on Friday night.

Hodgson has suffered a setback in his preparations for his first qualifying tie in charge of the national team following the withdrawals of left-back Ashley Cole and winger Adam Johnson.

However, the 65-year-old tactician still has faith in the quality of his remaining squad members to come out on on top in Chisinau, even though he expects Moldova to adopt a defensive approach against the Three Lions.

"It's a blow to lose players but we chose a large squad fortunately, so I'm still happy with the players that remain with us and we certainly have more than the 11 we'll pick to play the game," said Hodgson.

"The most important thing is to get points on the board. We want to get off to a good start in this qualifying campaign."

He added: "They are going to be very well organised, very disciplined in defence. We're aware that they are - from the games we've studied - a team that's capable of playing very well and causing some problems. We're not going to underestimate them.

"If they can hold Holland on two occasions to a 1-0 victory then what we need to try and do is get an early goal."

Hodgson has backed his charges to cope with a potentially tricky playing surface after Moldova assistant manager Ion Testemitanu admitted this week that the state of the Zimbru Stadium pitch wasn't very good.

"We haven't seen the pitch yet and quite frankly we haven't spoken about it," he said. "I'm pretty sure that I have a very experienced group of players and they'll have played on many pitches, and I really don't envisage any particular problems there.

"It's up to us to deal with whatever playing surface we play on. I'm pretty sure the Moldovan national team want to play on the best possible surface they can."