Hodgson scuppered by Ronaldo absence

Bale and Ronaldo

Gareth Bale and Cristiano Ronaldo are the two most expensive players in world football

England manager Roy Hodgson says he was hoping to use their friendly with Portugal as a dress rehearsal for dealing with Wales winger Gareth Bale.

Portugal will be without star Cristiano Ronaldo, who has been granted time off after winning the Champions League.

Hodgson thought that Ronaldo would be able to replicate the challenge of his Welsh Real Madrid teammate.

“We were thinking about Gareth Bale,” Hodgson said when he explained why Portugal had been chosen as opponents.

The England boss felt the challenge in facing Ronaldo is the best preparation for attempting to stop Gareth Bale, who scored seven goals in qualifying as Wales reached a major finals for the first time in 58 years.

“Of course he [Ronaldo] has been an unbelievably influential figure for all the clubs he has played for and Portugal as well, and we were thinking that Gareth Bale is in a somewhat similar position,” Hodgson said.

“So when we thought Portugal, we were thinking not only about their technical qualities and the fact they are a very good football team, but they also have a special individual.”

Wales and England meet in Lens on 11 June and are favourites to advance from Group B, which also contains Slovakia and Russia.

“I believe now that might not be the case [that Ronaldo will play] but we’re happy with the two opponents we’ve had so far [Australia and Turkey]. They’ve certainly put us to the test.

“I’ve been able to use quite a lot of players in those two games and we expect another tough test [against Portugal].

“But if we can get through that test and come away satisfied with what we’ve done and I can be satisfied with what I’ve seen, then I’d have to say the three preparation games have served their purpose.”

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