England must be ‘ruthless’ to succeed

Joe Hart

Joe Hart has said he is willing to take a penalty if England face a shootout at Euro 2016

Goalkeeper Joe Hart says England must be “ruthless” to succeed at Euro 2016, where he hopes to give a new generation of fans their own Euro ’96 moment.

Roy Hodgson’s side, who won every game in qualifying, start their campaign on Saturday against Russia in Marseille.

“If we can be on the right end of key moments we will go far,” said Hart, 29.

The Manchester City keeper also said he “fully believes” in England’s defensive options, despite criticism over a perceived lack of strength in depth.

Hodgson’s 23-man party – the youngest England squad for 58 years – features three central defenders in Gary Cahill, Chris Smalling and John Stones, with defensive midfielder Eric Dier as a backup option.

I feel it’s very balanced and very comfortable,” said Hart. “Maybe because the numbers aren’t there, but the seven potential defenders picked that are in the squad, and obviously with Eric as well able to slot in, are really high-level players.

“We’re going to attack as a team and defend as a team. We’ll work hard, we are well regimented and we are ready.”

‘Playing to a decent standard isn’t enough’


Ryan Bertrand trained on Thursday and looks to have recovered from a calf injury

Hart, who now has 59 caps for his country, was England’s first-choice keeper as they exited the 2014 World Cup at the group stage for the first time in 58 years.

They responded with 10 wins in Euro 2016 qualifying, conceding just three goals.

Hart is clear on what must change from the let down in Brazil and is adamant England’s past displays are irrelevant.

“Playing to a decent standard isn’t enough, we have to be ruthless at both ends of the pitch,” said Hart, who is one of 11 men in the squad with tournament experience.

“It’s the thing that stood out the most in the two games we lost at the World Cup.

“Everywhere we look is covered with the basics – pace and power – and then every player adds that bit of quality. It’s a deadly combo we have to mould into a team.

“We need 23 ready to go, ready to at the flick of a switch, do something different.”

‘We’d love to make memories’


Hart hopes to inspire a new generation of fans, as he was during Euro ’96

England are joined by Russia, Wales and Slovakia in Group B.

With three teams potentially reaching the last 16, hopes are high of at least replicating the run to the semi-finals at Euro ’96, which Hart watched as a nine-year-old.

“That was a fantastic tournament, one I enjoyed watching and I’d love for other nine year olds to have memories of 2016,” he added.

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