England manager Roy Hodgson has hit out at critics who have questioned his team’s patriotism and desire ahead of their European Championship clash against Wales in Lens on Thursday.
Wales striker Gareth Bale last week said his team had “more passion and pride” than England, who “big themselves up before they’ve done anything”.
Russian goalkeeper Igor Akinfeev also labelled Hodgson’s men the weakest seeded team in the Euro 2016 prior to Saturday’s draw with England.
“I’ve been in the game sufficiently long to know every opponent has got an opinion,” Hodgson told reporters.
“The other day it was Akinfeev saying we were the worst seeded team and now it’s Gareth Bale. They can have those opinions but I don’t have any doubts personally about our patriotism or desire and that’s the important thing.”
England midfielder Eric Dier, who scored the opener in Saturday’s draw, said the match against Wales was identical to a Premier League game.
“I think it might be a bit less like an international game and a bit more of an English game, especially with the players involved,” said the Tottenham Hotspur player.
“It might be a bit different to all the other games you’ve seen in the tournament, so I think that’s good for the spectators as well. It’s a massive game for them and for us.”
England, who are bidding for their first major international title since the 1966 World Cup, will end their Group B campaign against Slovakia on June 20.