England must ignore talks about their Euro 2016 prospects and focus instead on getting off to a good start in their tournament opener against Russia on Saturday, midfielder Adam Lallana has said.
Warm-up victories over Turkey, Australia and Portugal have raised hopes of Roy Hodgson’s charges ending the country’s 50-year wait for a major international trophy since England’s World Cup triumph in 1966.
“All the team’s focus will be on Russia now. It’s the first game, you don’t want to lose your first match and it’s important we get off to a good start and build from there,” Lallana told British media.
“I think it’s important to treat it as much of a normal game as you can. There’s always going to be hype but if we concentrate on our football and don’t get too caught up in the emotion and what comes with it then I’m sure we’ll be fine.”
With England fielding the youngest squad in what is the first major tournament for several of their players, Lallana felt it could work in favour of the Three Lions.
“We’ve got the balance of a young, fearless team with a good blend of experience as well,” the 28-year-old Liverpool player said.
“I think it’s good there is an element of surprise so the opposition don’t know what we’re doing. I think that’s a massive positive going into the tournament.”
Forward Daniel Sturridge urged team mates to put egos aside to preserve team unity during the tournament in France.
“We can’t win this thing if there’s egos or problems in the camp,” the Liverpool striker said.
“It’s about us being here as a team. I look at other countries in many competitions and when they score everyone is off the bench and they are all involved, all jumping on each other celebrating -- and that’s how we have to be.”
Wales and Slovakia are the other teams in Group B.