The decision to promote Zaha for Wednesday's friendly in Sweden is being viewed by some as a pre-emptive strike as Ivory Coast also court his services, though even a first full cap this week would not bar him from choosing the country of his birth.
But Hodgson insists he is a long-term admirer of the Crystal Palace forward, who is capped at U19 and U21 level, and says the 20-year-old can go elsewhere if he is not desperate to take the next step.
"This is a very simple one for me," he said. "If any player prefers to play for a team other than England they're welcome to do so.
"If the chance to play for our national team is not strong enough motivation for players, they're not type of players we want anyway.
"I automatically - perhaps naively - assume that when I give a chance to a player who has played for the U19s and U21s I expect him to cycle there if necessary, and not only make himself available but almost thank us for the opportunity.
"He was a transfer target for West Brom when I was manager there. We followed him. I know the type of player he is and the quality he brings.
"When the opportunity arose to bring him into the squad, for me it was the obvious thing to do to ask him to come in."
Carl Jenkinson, a former Finland U21 international, is expected to receive clearance in time to feature alongside Arsenal team-mate Jack Wilshere.
And Hodgson admits Wilshere's return - just three games into his comeback from a 16-month injury lay-off - is a welcome surprise.
He said: "I spoke to Jack two months ago and he was just recovering then. I said it would be nice if he was fit enough to come along and share the journey.
"He has made a quicker recovery which gives me a chance to use him for some part of the game. There was never any intention to start him and play him for 90 minutes."