England manager Roy Hodgson is eager to avoid qualifying for next year’s World Cup in Brazil through the play-offs.
Hodgson’s side are 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 only first place securing automatic qualification from the group, the former Fulham and Liverpool boss is wary of a complicated path to the 2014 showpiece.
“Nobody wants to be in the play-offs but the fact is that in the World Cup qualifiers, only one team qualifies (from the group automatically),” Hodgson told reporters.
“And, in the play-offs, it’s going to be a good team because in every group there are at least two good teams.”
Hodgson is not dwelling on the play-offs prospect, however, and believes his side still have a strong chance of topping the group ahead of main rivals Montenegro, Ukraine and Poland.
“I will worry about the play-offs when the play-offs 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 play-offs.
“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.”