Defeat to France no disaster for England - Gerrard
ENGLAND skipper Steven Gerrard does not believe his team need despair about their prospects if they lose their Euro 2012 opener against France tonight.
So often in the past, the Three Lions have headed into major tournaments carrying a massive weight of expectancy from supporters.
Not this time. Not when they have a coach who is only 41 days into the job, four players lost to injury, a row over Rio Ferdinand, and Wayne Rooney suspended for the opening two games. A point against a France team unbeaten in its last 21 games would be regarded as a significant achievement.
"It's the first game," said Gerrard.
"It's not the end of the world, whichever way it goes.
"It is important we don't get carried away thinking we are going to win the tournament if we win and don't commit suicide if we lose because there will still be two games to recover."
The words are a measure of the new maturity from the England camp, much of which coach Roy Hodgson deserves immense credit for.
However, they should not be mistaken for a lack of pride.
For Hodgson bristled with indignation when it was suggested by a French journalist that England - with a single World Cup win - should question their status as a footballing force.
"You didn't actually need to remind me," Hodgson said of England's World Cup victory. "That has crossed my mind on one or two occasions.
"It's a fact of life. But I think before the very good French period we could have levelled a similar accusation against them. As a top nation we haven't won as many tournaments as we should."
Unless there is a late shock, Danny Welbeck will take the central striking role and the wide slots will be filled by Stewart Downing and James Milner, who trained last night after missing a couple of sessions with a blistered heel.