England should beat Sweden, says confident captain Gerrard

ENGLAND captain Steven Gerrard insists his side should beat Sweden on Friday, believing they need three points if they are to advance to the European Championship’s knockout stages.

England produced a disciplined performance to hold France to a 1-1 draw in their opening game but must still overcome potentially problematic fixtures against Sweden and joint hosts Ukraine to proceed. Though Gerrard remained adamant that England respect their next opponents, the influential midfielder maintained nonetheless that he expects to overcome them.

“We need to get three points against them and then the point against France becomes very important,” said Gerrard. “I don’t want to disrespect the other two teams. Of course, on paper France are favourites in the group.

“The Swedes are difficult and I don’t think we’ve beaten them for a long time in a competitive game.

“We will respect them but, with all respect, it’s a game we should win.”

Gerrard assisted Joleon Lescott’s goal against France with a masterful right-wing cross but the defender’s Manchester City team-mate Samir Nasri equalised during a game in which England were content with a point. Though no different in value to the 1-1 draw against USA with which England began the 2010 World Cup, Gerrard believes their recent result has the opposite effect on their morale.

“The difference now to two years ago is we came off that game against the USA deflated with no belief and confidence,” added Gerrard, also Liverpool’s captain. “I think after getting a point against France, in the dressing room there was a lot of belief, confidence and togetherness and that is what you need.”

Gerrard’s views have been echoed by Tottenham manager Harry Redknapp who, though overlooked for the role when a rival to Roy Hodgson before the latter’s May appointment as England manager, gave an insight into how he may have approached the job.

“We all know about [Sweden and AC Milan striker] Zlatan Ibrahimovic but there’s not that much quality around him, said Redknapp.

“There’s not enough talent in the Swedish line-up and I think England have to go for the win from the second game in Group D.”