Slovakia boss tips Allardyce for England success

Joe Williams

Slovakia boss Jan Kozak has backed Sam Allardyce to make a success of managing England but does not expect it to be an easy ride.

Allardyce takes charge of the national side for the first time in Sunday’s World Cup qualifier in Trnava, where he will come face to face with Kozak.

Kozak has recent experience of taking on England, and the frenzy of interest that follows them, having battled to a goalless draw against Roy Hodgson’s side in the final group game of Euro 2016.

Hodgson was roundly criticised for his team selection when the nations met in St Etienne and lasted just one more match in the job after losing in the last 16 to Iceland.

“People in England love football and their players are under a lot of pressure from the media and from the public,” said Kozak.

“There are a lot of expectations. If these expectations are not met you see what happens with the humiliating defeat by Iceland.

“But those who have observed English football know Sam, I know he is an experienced manager and is appreciated by his players.

“I think he is the right man for this job. The clubs he has managed are disciplined and well led and although managing the national team is different he has enough experience to meet this challenge.”

Kozak also had words of encouragement for Joe Hart.

The goalkeeper was ruthlessly cut adrift by new Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola and has signed a season-long loan at Serie A side Torino in a bid to hold on to his England shirt.

All eyes will be on him, especially after a less than convincing Euros, but Kozak said: “When I watched England it was clear to me Joe Hart was the number one in that department.

“I think it’s good for Joe Hart to go to Torino, to clear his mind and show the best qualities he has.”

Kozak left experienced quartet Jan Mucha, Miroslav Stoch, Vladimir Weiss and Stanislav Sestak out of his squad for the match and has now been hit by two further withdrawals.

AC Milan midfielder Juraj Kucka has not been able to take part in full training and will not feature, while uncapped defender Jakub Holubek is sidelined with an ankle injury.