Roy Hodgson has told Gareth Bale not to question England’s passion or patriotism ahead of Thursday’s crunch Euro 2016 clash against Wales.
Bale claimed last week Welsh players had more desire than their neighbours and that England “big themselves up before they’ve done anything”.
Wales went on to win their Group B opener 2-1 over Slovakia, while Hodgson’s men were held to a 1-1 draw after Russia’s injury-time equaliser.
That makes the stakes in Lens even higher than they already were, with qualification potentially at stake as well as bragging rights.
“Receiving disrespectful comments is part and parcel of being a footballer and a football coach,” Hodgson said.
“I don’t ever comment on other people. I’ve been in the game sufficiently long to know every opponent has got an opinion, the other day it was (Russia goalkeeper Igor) Akinfeev saying we were the worst seeded team and now it’s Gareth Bale.
“They can have those opinions but I don’t have any doubts personally about our patriotism or desire and that’s the important thing.
“If he believes that that’s the case, he’s welcome to that opinion.
“But we know who we are, we know what we are. We don’t have any doubts about ourselves in that respect.”
Meanwhile, Wayne Rooney has said he personally rates Bale among the world’s best, but England’s collective quality means he is not getting hung up on the Real Madrid star ahead of their Euro 2016 clash.
“I think he is a fantastic player, probably in the top five players in the world,” the England captain said.
“He is the biggest threat for Wales, but I don’t think we will go out and man-mark him.
“I think we have to go out and play our game. They will have a lot to think about our team, too.
“I think we’ve got a good team, a good solid team and I’m sure it will be a fascinating game.”