June 22, 2014

RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) After England's World Cup fiasco, Roy Hodgson realizes the country is searching for a scapegoat, and accepts he's fortunate to have survived as coach.

Despite England failing to reach the second round at a tournament for the first time since 1958, the Football Association wants Hodgson to see out his contract until the 2016 European Championship.

''I am very pleased to have had that backing - scapegoats are always necessary in times of failure. One understands that after being in football for a long time,'' Hodgson said on Sunday. ''One would like to think your work you do is judged over a long period of time ... on your ability, on what you bring to the job and what qualities and what you can do going forward.

''Whether it's fortunate that's the position I find myself in, I accept that I'm fortunate.''

With no significant clamor for Hodgson to be England's fall-guy, the 66-year-old Londoner is vowing to complete his four-year contract, certain he retains the support of players and coaches.

''I didn't want to be the one for selfish reasons possibly to turn around and say `Right, it's hurting me. I'll take the easy way out,''' Hodgson said at England's Rio de Janeiro training base. ''I didn't want to resign.''

Despite England opening Group D with two 2-1 losses to Italy and Uruguay, there were glimpses of a potentially promising future for some of Hodgson's younger players, including 19-year-old winger Raheem Sterling and 20-year-old midfielder Ross Barkley.

''We've brought in so many young players at the last minute really,'' Hodgson said. ''We didn't have these players in November... so it's been quite a late emergence. I think the players are a strong group, a very solid group.

''I believe they're more than accepting of the work we're trying to do, that they share our belief, share our goals, share our vision. As a result, with the backing of the FA and the people around me I feel I'm the right man to continue.''

And, going into qualifying for the 2016 European Championship in September, Hodgson sees hope for the future.

''The major calamity or the major blow for us is the fact that we feel we were so close,'' Hodgson said. ''All these young players were so close to reaching that and getting that confidence whereas now, like the rest of us more experienced ones, have got to suffer the fact we have failed.''

Before flying home, England must complete the group stage by playing surprise leader Costa Rica on Tuesday in Belo Horizonte.

''It will be a team which will give people who haven't had much of a chance in the first two games to show what they can do,'' Hodgson said.


Rob Harris can be followed at www.twitter.com/RobHarris

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