England are genuine contenders for Euro 2012 insists Wayne Rooney.
Following the sorry World Cup demise in South Africa two years ago, there has been a general lessening in expectations around the Three Lions.
It offers some reason for the vastly-reduced numbers travelling around to watch their group games, which culminate in a meeting with the co-hosts Ukraine in Donetsk tomorrow.
A point would be enough for Roy Hodgson’s men to secure a quarter-final berth.
However Rooney sees no reason to adopt a negative attitude. “I’ve said it before. I think we’re good enough,” he said. I know no-one wants to build up expectations but I firmly believe we’ve got the players. Before the tournament started I said a country like ours needs to be in there with a shout of winning major tournaments.
“Obviously you need a bit of luck as well, but we’ve got a good opportunity. We’ve got the squad and are more organised than we have been as long as I’ve been in the squad. We are hard to beat now. If we keep doing that and keep working hard then there’s no reason we can’t go really far and be in with a shout of winning it.”
Not even the prospect of facing Spain in the last eight worries Rooney, despite the fact it is a side built around the Barcelona team who outplayed Manchester United in two Champions League finals in three years.
“You have to play the best teams if you want to win tournaments,” he said. “How much of a boost would it be for us if we did play them and beat them? How much confidence would that give us?”
Hodgson guaranteed Rooney a starting berth on Tuesday where, if statistics are any guide, he will be partnered by Danny Welbeck. The duo started 22 Manchester United games together in all competitions, in which Rooney and Welbeck scored 33 goals between them.