England coach Roy Hodgson has admitted he would rather not have to qualify for next year's World Cup in Brazil through the playoffs.
The Three Lions are currently second in Group H after a 1-1 draw with Montenegro in Podgorica on Tuesday, two points adrift of the table-toppers with four matches to play. With time running out for his side reach the summit of the standings, the 65-year-old Hodgson said he is eager for a good result in the reverse fixture in October in order to avoid the lottery of the playoffs.
"Nobody wants to be in the playoffs, but the fact is that in the World Cup qualifiers, only one team qualifies [from the group automatically]," Hodgson told reporters. "And, in the playoffs, it's going to be a good team, because in every group there are at least two good teams."
Hodgson went on to say that he will address the playoffs further only when or if they should become an issue, also pointing to the favorability of England's schedule looking forward.
"I will worry about the playoffs when the playoffs come around," Hodgson said. "At the moment I shall focus all my attention on, first of all, the summer to try to do as good a job as possible when we go to Brazil [in June] and also when we play Ireland at home.
"Then I shall work even harder to focus on those four important qualifiers in September and October and if, as a result of our performances, we are second in our group, then we will worry about the team we have to face in the playoffs.
"We've got an important four to five weeks in September and October, three matches at home and one difficult one away in the Ukraine, so by at least not losing in Montenegro we have kept it in our own hands. We give ourselves a chance."
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