Euro 2012: Beating France key for England confidence, says Gerrard
Steven Gerrard believes beating France would give England the confidence needed to make a big impact at Euro 2012
Steven Gerrard believes victory over France in England’s Euro 2012 opener on Monday would give Roy Hodgson’s men a vital confidence boost.
The 32-year-old will captain England in their first European championship since 2004, and the Liverpool midfielder is hoping for a better start to the tournament than eight years ago when Zinedine Zidane inspired a late France comeback.
The Real Madrid legend scored from a free-kick before Gerrard’s poor back-pass resulted in David James hauling down Thierry Henry, and Zidane dispatched the penalty to seal a 2-1 win after Frank Lampard had put England ahead in the first half.
Hodgson was appointed as Fabio Capello’s successor in May, and with expectations low, Gerrard is confident England can make an impact at Euro 2012, and that begins with beating Laurent Blanc’s side.
“We’re really looking forward to it,” Gerrard told BBC Sport.
“France are a good team with attacking players. If we give them too much respect and time, they can really hurt us. But I’m confident that we can put that ten year thing to bed and can beat a big side at a major tournament.
“The focus for me is to try and beat France. If we avoid defeat it will give this team and new set-up an awful lot of confidence. If you can beat France then it proves that you can compete against any team in the tournament because I think France are one of the favourites.
“I’m quietly confident that we can get further then the public think we can.”
Meanwhile, Gerrard defended Hodgson’s decision to draft in Martin Kelly as Gary Cahill’s replacement after the Chelsea defender suffered a fractured jaw in the 1-0 victory over Belgium.
Hodgson was criticised for not selecting Manchester United’s experienced Rio Ferdinand, but Gerrard insists Kelly was brought in to provide cover for right-back Glen Johnson.
“There’s no pressure on Martin [Kelly] at all,” added Gerrard.
“Martin’s done very well in his career so far and he hasn’t come in instead of Rio Ferdinand – he’s come in as back-up to Glen Johnson at right-back.
“I’m sure if we become more short on the centre area it will be Phil Jones who slots into that spot.”
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