Saint-Étienne (France) (AFP) – Slovakia captain Martin Skrtel will do whatever it takes to win in Monday’s crunch Euro 2016 clash against England — including making sure Liverpool team-mate Daniel Sturridge has a quiet game.
With a last 16 place at stake both teams need at least a point in Saint-Etienne to be sure of reaching the knockout phase of the European Championship finals.
Having scored England’s winning goal in injury time against Wales off the bench, Sturridge was the Three Lions’ hero in Lens last Thursday.
But Skrtel says he will not think twice about tackling his Anfield team-mate Sturridge out of their final group game if he has to.
“Obviously I would. We’re friends before the game and after, but on the pitch there are no friends,” said the Slovakia centre-back.
“If you asked Daniel, he’d reply the same. If I have to kick him, I will.”
Sturridge is not guaranteed to start against Slovakia with Harry Kane and Jamie Vardy also vying for an England place.
Nevertheless, Skrtel was repeatedly asked about his Liverpool team-mate.
Does the Slovakian know all his tricks? How will he defend against Sturridge? What are the England striker’s strengths?
“It’s not only about Sturridge, we have to be ready for them as a team,” said the 31-year-old Skrtel.
“It doesn’t matter if it’s Sturridge or Vardy, we have to try to control them and be better than them.”
Skrtel said he has not been asked by Slovakia coach Jan Kozak for any inside knowledge on the England squad, many of whom he’s faced in the Premier League.
Nevertheless, the Slovakia captain says his side will not be intimidated by a star-studded England.
“Of course, it will be a very special game because I have been playing in England a long time,” he said.
“Everyone knows about England’s strengths, which they proved in qualifying by winning ten games, but we’re well prepared.”
Slovakia lost their opening game to Wales 2-1, before beating Russia by the same scoreline, and Skrtel wants another passionate display against England.
“We showed desire, we showed character, we showed heart against Russia,” said the Liverpool defender.
“The desire to win the game was massive and we got the good result. We’re working together for each other.”
As Slovakia coach Kozak put it: “We have three points and to stay here, we need at least one more, so there is a lot at stake.”
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