Arsène Wenger says England belong at the World Cup - and their absence would have hurt the tournament.

The Three Lions' place at Brazil 2014 was in the balance with two home wins needed against Montenegro and Poland to clinch top spot in their qualifying group ahead of Ukraine.

But Roy Hodgson's side delivered at Wembley when it mattered and Wenger believes next summer's showpiece will be better for England's involvement.

I am very pleased for Roy Hodgson because I know how harsh the judgements can be on the national team here

"Overall, England came out of a stressful period in a positive way," he told Arsenal Player.

"I am very pleased for Roy Hodgson because I know how harsh the judgements can be on the national team here. A World Cup without England is not a World Cup. They dealt well with their last two opponents because Montenegro and Poland were tricky."

Wenger's own country faces a play-off before they can confirm their place at the 2014 finals.

"France finished second," said Wenger. "They are on the way up and their last few results have been positive. They had Spain in the group and they finished with 19 points, three behind Spain. That was expected.

"They are in a tricky position. In the draw they could get Croatia, Portugal, Greece or Ukraine. Portugal is a monster they could face but the other three are difficult too.

"Germany did the job without any surprise," added Wenger. "They will be contenders at the World Cup. There is a special congratulations to Belgium, who surprised everybody. They were in a difficult group but they were absolutely amazing.

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"The positive on these games is Wales because we have Aaron Ramsey [who scored] there [in Belgium]. I am pleased that he comes back with a positive [feeling]. Wales won the first game and they drew in Belgium.

"Overall there were no surprises. Maybe the fact that Uruguay has the qualifier but they will play Jordan. They will have a good chance to go through. So in Brazil you should have all the big countries to compete for the World Cup."

Copyright 2014 The Arsenal Football Club plc. Permission to use quotations from this article is granted subject to appropriate credit being given to www.arsenal.com as the source Chris Harris 17 Oct 2013