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England run captures Parker's imagination

Published: Saturday 23 June 2012, 18.10CET
A key cog in Roy Hodgson's midfield, Scott Parker told there is a feeling England can "do something really special" if they overcome a "well-organised" Italy team on Sunday.
by Andy James
from Krakow

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Published: Saturday 23 June 2012, 18.10CET

England run captures Parker's imagination

A key cog in Roy Hodgson's midfield, Scott Parker told there is a feeling England can "do something really special" if they overcome a "well-organised" Italy team on Sunday.

Scott Parker told there is "definitely a belief" within the squad that England can go all the way at UEFA EURO 2012.

The Tottenham Hotspur FC midfielder, playing at his first major finals at the age of 31, started all three games as England successfully negotiated the group stage and with just two victories now potentially separating Roy Hodgson's side from a place in the final, is sensing a rise in expectations.

"The closer you get, obviously you start realising that maybe there's a chance we can go and do something really special," said England's Player of the Year for 2011. "In saying that, football has a tendency to sting you when you start getting carried away, so we need to realise our main focus and that's Sunday."

Parker was, of course, referring to England's quarter-final against Italy. While he was somewhat relieved to have avoided holders Spain at this juncture, the Tottenham favourite is under no illusions as to the challenge posed by the Azzurri.

"They're a very well-organised team with some exceptional individual talents," he said. "They have players who have vast experience in these competitions and who know what needs to be done to win games. It will be very difficult for us, we all know that."

Central to England's success so far in the tournament has been the stability provided by the defensive midfield axis of Parker and captain Steven Gerrard. The duo are likely to be pivotal again as England attempt to disrupt Italy's passing game and Parker had nothing but praise for his partner in the middle.

"We all know exactly what Stevie's about," he explained. "He's a fantastic player with tremendous ability. He's someone who can go and win games when he needs to, and he has shown both sides to his game this tournament. Defensively he has been brilliant and obviously he's been a threat going forward in terms of assisting a couple of the goals we've scored."

Parker, who missed out in the final cut for the FIFA World Cup in South Africa two years ago, said he was "relishing playing alongside" the Liverpool FC skipper and believes their respective experience has helped them form a mutual understanding on the field. "We're both at a similar age. You get to that point in your career where we practically know exactly what needs to be done."

It is this reliability which has made Parker one of the first names on Hodgson's team sheet, and after no defeats from five games under the new coach, the midfielder thinks the 64-year-old is laying the foundations for a quiet revolution.

"The manager has hit the ground running. Since he has come in he has organised us pretty well. When you run out there, you know exactly what is wanted from you. I'm sure there's plenty more to come from him and everyone should be excited."

Last updated: 26/10/12 15.33CET

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