Hodgson reveals Ox pep talk

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Football News

Roy Hodgson has revealed he told Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain not to let the pressure of the big occasion get to him after the Arsenal winger was handed his first competitive start for England in their Euro 2012 opener against France.

Oxlade-Chamberlain was something of a surprise selection for the Group D encounter in Donetsk as England secured a hard-earned point against a technically superior French side.

The former Southampton wideman only fired in fits and spurts as England were forced to defend deep in their own half for much of the game, but did enough to suggest he could have an impact on the tournament in Poland and Ukraine.

Hodgson admitted he based his decision to include Oxlade-Chamberlain on what he saw in the weeks leading up to the game against France, and said he didn’t want to see the 18-year-old’s game burdened by expectation during the tie.

"He deserved it," said Hodgson. "The way he's played since coming into the squad, the performance he gave against Belgium, the ability he has to skip past defenders - which is an important ability to have - is excellent.

"I said to him before the game that this was a big occasion, but there'll be so many more big occasions in the rest of his career so he shouldn't hang himself on this occasion.

"I just wanted him to play to the best of his ability and remember he has plenty of games for England ahead of him."

England, who went ahead thanks to a Joleon Lescott header before they were pegged back by Samir Nasri’s long-range strike, go on to face Sweden on Friday before they face Ukraine in their final group game on Tuesday.

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