Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard insists England can have a "successful" World Cup in Brazil next year but admits that winning the tournament is a nearly impossible proposition. The Reds legend was responding in part to comments made by FA chairman Greg Dyke, who dismissed speculation the 1966 World Cup winners would make any sort of impact in South America in 2014.
"I don't think we're as weak as has been suggested. Realistically, everyone in the room knows we're not going to be one of the bookies' favourites to win the World Cup. It doesn't mean we can't get there and have a successful tournament to make the country proud," Gerrard explained, ahead of England's must-win World Cup qualifier against Moldova at Wembley.
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England must beat Moldova, ranked 123 in the world by FIFA, to ensure the following midweek fixture against 2012 European Championships co-host Ukraine does not become a do-or-die affair. Hodgson's men are presently second in Group H and although they have a game in hand over leaders Montenegro, Ukraine are only a point behind in third.
"We don't want to get ahead of ourselves. Our priority is to get there first. To qualify is the challenge. We want to qualify for the World Cup, go there and make the nation proud," the 33-year-old continued.
"We can do that without winning it. Playing at a World Cup is the pinnacle of any footballer's dream as a kid -- especially in Brazil," he concluded.
England's task is all the more difficult given the injuries to key players. Strikers Wayne Rooney, and Daniel Sturridge are unavailable. The Manchester United forward injured his head during the Premier League champions' 1-0 defeat to Liverpool in the last round of league games and the Liverpool star has returned to Anfield with a thigh problem.
There is still hope that the 24-year-old former Chelsea striker will be fit by midweek to face Ukraine but, for now, Hodgson is set to hand Southampton's Rickie Lambert a start against Moldova. Tottenham striker Jermain Defoe is an option, even if the Spurs star is nursing a knock of his own.
"We all know the importance of the game. As players we put pressure on and motivate ourselves, and we know what is coming and we are ready for it. Roy has been setting us up for Moldova to try and win that game, and it has been going well," Lambert stressed.
Meanwhile, there are defensive concerns as well, with Liverpool's Glen Johnson and United's Phil Jones both unavailable. Arsenal midfielder Jack Wilshere is also a doubt, although the Gunners' star is expected to shake off his stomach problem to start this match.