Roy Hodgson
England manager Roy Hodgson. REUTERS

Liverpool defender Jamie Carragher believes Roy Hodgson's England side won't be pretty to watch during Euro 2012 but could prove effective at grinding out results in the tournament's latter stages.

England open their Group D account against France in Donetsk on Monday, with the winner of that match likely to progress as group winners ahead of Sweden and co-hosts Ukraine.

Roy Hodgson had a full squad - minus the absent Jermain Defoe - at his disposal during Friday's training session in Krakow and Carragher expects England to sit deep and try and hit France on the counter attack.

"If you're expecting width in a Roy Hodgson side you'll have to keep your eye on the full-backs," Carragher told the Telegraph.

"Ashley Cole and Glen Johnson will be asked to overlap and should be perfect for his system given their fitness levels and attacking ability.

"Against the strongest nations such as Spain, Holland or Germany, we've got to be honest and admit England will be the underdogs. We know how it will be; two banks of four, men behind the ball and hit on the counter attack.

"The challenge for Hodgson when assessing the current England squad is how to ensure this group of players can dictate games rather than be dictated to."

England will hope to top Group D if they want to give themselves the best chance of avoiding Spain in the quarter-finals and progressing to a semi-final in Warsaw.

But France, unbeaten in 21 games, present formidable opponents, particularly with Karim Benzema and Franck Ribery in irrepressible form.

Nevertheless, Laurent Blanc's side remain fragile at the back, with both centre-backs, Adil Rami and Philippe Mexes experiencing indifferent domestic campaigns and Yann M'Vila a major doubt in central midfield.

And Carragher believes Hodgson will set his England side up to exploit the gaps between France's defense and midfield, an area he views as particularly vulnerable.

If England maintain the habit of winning 1-0, the manager will be hailed for his expert organisation and meticulous planning," said Carragher. "If they play in the same manner and lose or even play dull draws, the criticism will flow and murmurs about a defensive style will grow.

"Theo Walcott is going to struggle to get a place in Hodgson's starting line-up. Not because he isn't a good player, but because Roy is adamant his wide midfielders must tuck in and perform as hard defensively as in attack.

"Roy will always refer to what he calls 'the pockets'. It's that area between the lines of the touchline and centre of the pitch. That's where he wants his wide midfielders. He doesn't want them getting chalk on their boots.

"That's why James Milner will be a Hodgson favourite, the type with the energy levels to get up and down the pitch, but disciplined enough to fulfil his defensive duties. When England does not have the ball, it will seem like they have four central midfielders protecting the defence. They will be the definition of the phrase 'compact'."

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