Chantilly (France) (AFP) – England must be decisive in both penalty areas to avoid a repeat of their humiliating World Cup exit at Euro 2016, goalkeeper Joe Hart said on Thursday.
Roy Hodgson’s side travelled to Brazil two years ago confident that they would make an impact, only for consecutive 2-1 defeats by Italy and Uruguay to send them crashing out after just two matches.
Hopes are also high ahead of Saturday’s Euro opener against Russia in Marseille, but Hart warned that it will count for nothing if England are not on their mettle in the game’s decisive moments.
“Playing to a decent standard sometimes isn’t enough. We’ve got to be really ruthless at both ends of the pitch,” the Manchester City goalkeeper told a press conference at England’s Chantilly media base.
“It’s an obvious thing. That doesn’t differ from Premier League football or Capital One Cup football. It probably stood out the most in the two games that we lost in the World Cup.
“We could have walked off easily with two victories, but we didn’t. That’s most important thing.”
Left-back Ryan Bertrand trained apart from the squad earlier this week due to an unspecified injury problem, but following training on Thursday, Hart said that everyone was fit and available to face Russia.
England have selected their youngest squad at a major tournament since the 1958 World Cup, with manager Hodgson putting faith in youngsters such as 18-year-old Manchester United striker Marcus Rashford.
Aged 29 and with 59 caps, Hart is at the other end of the scale, but he said that there was no split in the squad between young and old, thanks in part to the efforts of captain Wayne Rooney.
“There’s a lot of youngsters, so they’re probably going to be more comfortable than maybe other teams,” he said.
“There’s a good bond right the way through. It’s well known that at 30 years old, Wayne is such a key part of the squad. He’s accessible to all the players.
“You look at him doing an interview with Marcus. That’s just how Wayne is. There’s definitely a connection. Age doesn’t really factor into this team. We’re all one and we’re all pushing in the right direction.”
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