“Wilf unfortunately picked up a knock in the game against Arsenal,” he told Sky Sports in his pre-match interview. “The turnaround has been quite quick, and we haven’t been able to turn him around in time.”
“Every time Wilf doesn’t play it’s a miss, that’s been well documented. We’d have loved to have him here – and we’d have loved to have had Cheikhou [Kouyate] here – but these things happen in a game of football and we’re fortunate that with a couple of days between the games we haven’t picked up more injuries than the one Wilf picked up.”
The manager explained his change in tactics for the match, with James McCarthy accompanying Luka Milivojevic and James McArthur in a three-man midfield.
“It does make sense sometimes when you play a team so good at attacking, who have so many strings to their bow when it comes to attacking, to have the extra man in midfield. It will help us.
“I’m not sure the extra man in attack would have done. The good thing is, of course, that if I want to put an extra forward on I have two very good ones on the bench that can change it around.”
Hodgson made clear that his players know what is required to secure a result at such a tough venue.
“[In past meeetings] We survived the onslaught, which begins in the first minute and usually finishes in the 95th. We showed a lot of discipline.
“The players have worked extremely hard to do the running that’s necessary to keep up with the running they do. That’s why they’re a top team and you know that when you come to a top, top team, anything that’s less than optimum in that respect is likely to see you punished.
“I can only be confident in that I know the players are aware of what’s required, and they know what we can expect from them and what they expect from themselves. So everything really hinges on the performance.
“If the performance can be as good as we know we’re capable of actually giving, then we know we’ll do well.”