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England players given sleeping pills


WARSAW — players were given sleeping tablets before delivering a dozy performance in Poland in a 2014 World Cup football qualifier.

Roy Hodgson’s side scraped a 1-1 draw when Wayne Rooney’s opener was cancelled out by Kamil Glik.

The World Cup qualifier was staged 20 hours after the match was initially postponed due to a waterlogged pitch.

But SunSport understands players were handed the sleeping pills when returning to the team hotel in Warsaw on Tuesday evening.

This unusual step will come as an embarrassment as a number of players delivered poor displays in a game Poland could have won.

Hodgson admitted last night: “On Monday, after the training session on the pitch, the players were looking very sharp and lively. I didn’t get that impression today.”

The “Three Lions” squad slept on Tuesday afternoon and some players were given ProPlus caffeine tablets ahead of the original 8pm kickoff.

And the sleeping pills were dished out when the game was put back to 4pm the following day. Skipper Steven Gerrard said: “When you’re fired up, pumped up, you’ve had your massages and you’re ready to go, a postponement is not ideal, but we’re professionals.

“We’re playing at the top level and we had to get ourselves up for this, but I didn’t think we were totally at the races.

“I slept fine. I won’t use the delay and conditions as an excuse.

“The reason we didn’t win was we didn’t pass it when we went in front.”

Amazingly, England had only one attempt on target during the match. And that was the first-half goal which bounced off Rooney’s shoulder.

It was the fourth time in 11 games under Hodgson that England have mustered just one attempt on target.

Hodgson attempted to blame the turf and the day delay as factors for the poor showing.

He said: “The pitch was soggy — it was suited to a long-ball game not a passing game.

“And the extra 36 hours spent in a hotel waiting to play didn’t do us any favours.”

But fans will be bewildered as to why he kept Andy Carroll — the man who has won more headers per game in the Premier League than any other player — on the bench when conditions were suited to the long-ball game.

Hodgson subbed Jermain Defoe and Rooney, but brought on Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Danny Welbeck instead of target man Carroll. —The Sun

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