Thursday, July 25, 2024

Pickford: England welcome the pressure of being Euro 2024 favourites

SoccerNews in General Soccer News 14 Jun 2024

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Jordan Pickford has urged England to embrace the pressure of being one of the favourites to win Euro 2024.

England made it to the final of Euro 2020, ultimately losing on penalties to Italy, as well as reaching the semi-finals and quarter-finals of the last two World Cups under Gareth Southgate.

According to the Opta supercomputer, England are the slight favourites going into Euro 2024, with a 19.9 per cent chance of lifting the trophy for the first time, narrowly ahead of France (19.1 per cent).

Pickford has faith that the squad, despite being quite young, will be able to cope with the expectations placed on them due to the favourites tag.

“Apart from Russia in 2018 [World Cup], where there was no pressure on us, to be a top, elite team you have got to have pressure,” Pickford said. “You have got to deal with it. To be one of the favourites, you have got to enjoy that pressure.

“I think we’ve got the right balance [between experience and youth]. With experience, we can help the younger lads who haven’t had as many caps, but everyone has different experiences through their own football careers.

“Some of the lads who are newer have been to major tournaments at younger levels and you have got to go away from home for a while. Everyone has been through those experiences.

“The senior lads, we have got to help those younger lads if needs be, but they are top players, they don’t need much help.”

The goalkeeper has also shrugged off worries that the defensive changes in England’s squad will affect their chances at the tournament.

Harry Maguire, a mainstay in previous tournaments under Southgate, had to withdraw from the preliminary squad due to a calf injury he sustained in April.

Meanwhile, Luke Shaw will not be fit to start the Euros, and John Stones missed training on Wednesday due to illness, though he returned on Thursday.

Despite an unsettled look to England’s back four, Pickford is confident whoever starts in front of him against Serbia will be prepared for the challenge.

Pickford said: “It doesn’t affect us. [There’s] lot of lads I’ve played with anyway. Anyone who’s in the England squad is there for what they have done for their club.

“It’s easy [playing with younger defenders]. They’re there because of talent.

“When they’re talented, I can help them, guide them, because I can see the full pitch and just my communication is hopefully a key to help them. That’s what I think I’m good at. They know what they’re doing in front of me.

“Everyone is fighting for a spot. Whoever plays, we are always ready and prepared. That’s what the manager and the staff do. They get us ready and prepared for whoever it is.”

England’s Euro 2024 campaign begins against Serbia on Sunday, with Denmark and Slovenia following in Group C.

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