England focused for Swiss test, insists Steven Gerrard

Kieran Beckles
By Kieran Beckles
steven gerrard

steven gerrard

Stand-in skipper Steven Gerrard insists England are fully focused ahead of tonight’s European Championship qualifier against Switzerland in Basel.

The England captain admitted Friday night’s 4-0 demolition of Bulgaria did “wonders” for the squad’s confidence following their dismal World Cup campaign. Gerrard sparkled in midfield at Wembley, producing a dominant performance of the sort Liverpool fans have grown accustomed to at Anfield.

“The way the boys played the other day was fantastic,” said Gerrard. “I don’t think you have to change much after a 4-0 win. We’re away from home against a good side and it’s a big test for us.”

The 30-year-old then outlined Fabio Capello’s desire to secure maximum points from their opening two matches of the qualifying campaign.

Gerrard added: “That was the plan when we first joined up last week – to take six points. A draw here would be a good result but it would be fantastic to take three points.”

And Gerrard jumped to Wayne Rooney’s defence, claiming the allegations surrounding the striker’s private life will not affect his performance tonight.

“If you have an issue off the pitch, you’re in a situation where you have to park it and then get on with the rest of your life,” said Gerrard, who himself became embroiled in controversy in December 2008 following a disagreement in a bar. “But this is where football sometimes can be a great release.

“Once the game starts, you’re focused on what happens on the pitch — not what’s going on off it. I’m sure that’s what will happen with Wayne as soon as the referee blows his whistle.”

As permanent England captain Rio Ferdinand continues his recovery from injury, Gerrard added that he has enjoyed every moment of leading the national team.

“I won’t lie to you, I’ve had to deal with some difficult questions,” he said. “And I’ve tried to do the best job I can and be as honest as I can. I’ve really loved leading the team out, every minute of it, even the games we’ve lost.

“Sure, it’s frustrating sometimes when you’re preparing for a big game and it seems as if people are only interested in the other story that is going round at the time.”

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