England manager Roy Hodgson hopes his players can stay off the front pages in the lead up to Euro 2016 after one of his stars was allegedly caught up in a lurid blackmail scandal.
A report in a Sunday newspaper claims one top England star was threatened with exposure over an apparent sex video.
The focus on the national team, who won all 10 of their qualifying matches, will only intensify in the lead up to the tournament in France next summer but Hodgson is keeping his fingers-crossed for a build-up without further controversy.
“You just have to deal with it and hope your players are lucky enough to stay out of the clutches of this type of journalism when something they have done in their private life – away from football – lands them in hot water,” he told Radio 5 Live’s Sportsweek programme.
“They are young men and people do make mistakes.
“It is a lot more difficult for players to do anything which people think they shouldn’t do as professional footballers, when it is being captured on a mobile phone and people are making money out of it by selling it to newspapers.”
England have friendlies coming up against Spain and tournament hosts France next month with a trip to world champions Germany scheduled for March.
However, Hodgson is looking for some help from Premier League managers when it comes to the build-up proper in terms of being given the maximum time possible with his players.
In recent years clubs have begun taking sides away for lucrative post-season friendlies in far-flung destinations but the national team boss hopes his existing good relationship with top-flight bosses will help come May.
“The managers have been very supportive for me, I can’t complain at all about that,” he added.
“It is one of the old chestnuts that managers don’t want their players to come and play or players are doubtful whether they want to take part in internationals, especially if they are friendlies, but I haven’t found that at all.
“I think the players have been excellent in terms of wanting to be there and do their best.
“As far as the managers are concerned I’ve not come across anyone who has been obstructive.
“What is important going forward – and where we do have some interest in talking to managers – is in the preparation phase when the season finishes.
“In the build-up we might need some help from managers because you don’t get a lot of preparation time when the season ends in England.
“If that time is taken up in any way it may be difficult.”