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Confident Hart talks up England chances

Published: Friday 8 June 2012, 16.38CET
Arriving at UEFA EURO 2012 as a Premier League title winner, England goalkeeper Joe Hart told UEFA.com that expectation in the squad is high going into their Group D opener.
by Andy James
from Krakow

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Published: Friday 8 June 2012, 16.38CET

Confident Hart talks up England chances

Arriving at UEFA EURO 2012 as a Premier League title winner, England goalkeeper Joe Hart told UEFA.com that expectation in the squad is high going into their Group D opener.

Joe Hart says England have arrived at UEFA EURO 2012 as a "team of winners" and that there is plenty of expectation from within the squad to compensate for any doubts elsewhere.

We can't hide that we've arrived here feeling good. Most of us have won something and we all play football to win
Joe Hart

"We put pressure on ourselves to win," the Manchester City FC goalkeeper told UEFA.com. "People are entitled to their opinions, but we'd like to think that when it comes to it, everyone's going to be behind us and hoping we do well."

The Premier League champion explained his domestic achievements this term had given him, and club-mates Joleon Lescott and James Milner, a winning mentality he hopes can be carried into England's performances in Poland and Ukraine.

"We've come here off the back of a very good season," said the 25-year-old. "We can't hide that we've arrived here feeling good. Most of us have won something and we all play football to win. That's why we turned up for this tournament. That's why we trained and worked so hard to qualify."

England's tournament preparations have been far from ideal, with Gareth Barry, Frank Lampard and, most recently, Gary Cahill having to pull out of the squad injured. Still, Hart has no doubts about the quality the Three Lions possess defensively and also believes his own presence will bring added steel to the back line.

"We're very good as a nation at defending," he said. "We've done well in the two warm-up games considering the squad that has been available. It has been one of our stronger points and anyone that does actually play will feel good. Hopefully I'll be able to bring some confidence to the back four and they will do vice versa."

The two warm-up games in question resulted in 1-0 victories against Norway and Belgium, prompting fears over whether England have the requisite firepower to trouble the best defences at UEFA EURO 2012. With Wayne Rooney suspended for the first two Group D fixtures and Jermain Defoe having returned home following the death of his father, England's attacking options against France may be limited, but Hart is convinced the squad poses enough of a goalscoring threat.

"Undoubtedly, we've got some great attacking players – not just the strikers," he continued. "The midfield gets forward well, even the deeper midfielders like Steven Gerrard – we've seen what he can do from any kind of distance. We attack well from corners, too, so we've got goals from all over the pitch."

Hart described Rooney as a "world-class player" whose absence will be keenly felt, but insisted there was no point in the team dwelling on the situation as they focus on recording a positive start Les Bleus, who are unbeaten in their last 21 outings.

"It's going to be a tough game. They're a good side and seem to be well organised. Obviously they've got some flair players. It's going to be that kind of game where two good sides are going to go at it, and both need results."

Last updated: 26/10/12 15.05CET

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