Roy Hodgson has warned that it will be a mistake to view Wales as a one-man team when England come up against Gareth Bale and Co at Euro 2016 in June following Saturday’s finals draw in Paris.
Bale scored seven of Wales’ 11 goals in the qualifying campaign – Chris Coleman’s side only conceded four in 10 matches.
But the England manager said his opposite number will have contingency plans in mind if something happens to the Real Madrid star.
The British teams meet on Thursday, June 16, in Lens in an afternoon kick-off for their second match of Group B, with Hodgson’s side playing Russia first in Marseille on June 11 and Slovakia the final group opponents in St Etienne on Monday, June 20.
“If people are going to tell me that Wales are a team who relies on one man then I don’t accept that – you can never build a team around one player,” Hodgson said.
“At the moment Gareth Bale might be scoring a goal a game but come June that might not be the case or he might be injured.
“I have a certain experience of that happening and disrupting your plans – Chris has been able to put together a more settled team than us.
“We have had a number of our players not available through injury. You cannot rely on a fixed team.”
Hodgson has been buoyed by top-level backing from Football Association chief executive Martin Glenn that he is the man the governing body want to take England to the 2018 World Cup in Russia, if his team can demonstrate progress at next summer’s European Championships.
No specific target has been set – it is thought that reaching the quarter-finals, with England viewed as playing good football, would be viewed as enough progress, especially coming from the low base of the disappointment of last year’s World Cup humiliation and elimination after just two matches.
England did reach the Euro 2012 quarter-finals when Hodgson had only been in charge for a matter of weeks, but the performances were low on style.
The 68-year-old insists his current squad, which won every match in qualification, is a very different beast to even the 2014 set-up.
He added: “Every generation has different players. The team playing for England now is quite different from 2014 and completely different from 2012.
“I don’t base my thinking on what’s happened in the past.
“We must respect our other opponents too. Slovakia is a country I like and admire which had a fantastic qualifying campaign.
“Martin Skrtel was a very good player when I was at Liverpool and he’s even better now, a really important player for Slovakia.
“Russia too is a team I have met in my coaching career, but they qualified well and are a threat.”
The FA will now start planning in earnest for the tournament, with officials making visits to the three venues for England’s group games, while work is already under way on the training base at Chantilly.
Hodgson is also likely to line up warm-up matches against strong opposition – one of the games will be at Wembley but it is likely that another will be elsewhere in England, most probably Old Trafford.
Three teams from each group could qualify, with 16 out of the 24 finalists going into the last 16. Whoever wins Group B will be certain of facing a team that finished third in another group.
Martin O’Neill showed his gallows humour at the Euro 2016 draw but knows it cannot be much harder for the Republic of Ireland.
The boss joked he did not enjoy Saturday’s event as Ireland were firmly dumped into next year’s Group of Death.
Belgium, top of the world rankings, and 2006 World Cup winners Italy await them on June 18 and 22 respectively in Group E.
While Sweden, who like Ireland qualified via the play-offs, can be seen as the weaker of the three they will have Zlatan Ibrahimovic to inspire them in what is likely to be his last tournament.
O’Neill said: “I thought I was going to enjoy the draw, I’m not sure I have done.
“It couldn’t get tougher. Italy should be in pot one. Difficult games to look forward to for the fans.”
Northern Ireland have a tough task after being drawn in Group C with Germany, Poland and Ukraine.
Republic of Ireland