ALL THE TALK: Highlights as England players spoke to the media
The England players spoke to the media on Tuesday as they returned to St Georges Park ahead of their opening European Championship match against Croatia.
The likes of Raheem Sterling, Phil Foden, Jordan Henderson, Luke Shaw and new call-up Ben White were among a host of England players who spoke to the media as they ramp up their preparations for the group games at Wembley.
Henderson - ‘Card tricks’
Henderson, who played his first minutes against Romania in the second warm-up match since getting injured for Liverpool in February, responded to criticism from Roy Keane.
Speaking to ITV, ex-Manchester United captain Keane married confusion over Henderson’s inclusion given his fitness with typical dry humour when he said, “Does he do card tricks? Does he have a sing-song? Does he do quizzes in the evening? What does he do?
“Surely Jordan doesn’t want to be around the place either being some sort of cheerleader. You want to play and he’s clearly nowhere near it.”
But Henderson laughed off the comment with the vice-captain confident he has some tricks up his sleeve having returned from injury.
“He can say whatever he wants about me. I found it quite funny, actually. Listen, as a player you want to play and I’m not coming here just to be around the camp, like Roy was saying. I want to come here and I want to contribute in the games. How much of that is not really down to me, it’s up to the manager to make a decision.
“But whenever I’m called upon, I’ll be ready and hopefully I can be a big contribution to this tournament and our success going forward.”
Shaw - ‘Extremely special’
Shaw was left out of Euro 2016 and the World Cup squad in 2018 when the Three Lions reached the semi-finals as he struggled for form and fitness at Old Trafford but has shone this season for Manchester United.
He won United’s Player of the Year award and made his first international appearance since September 2018 in the World Cup qualifying win over Albania in March.
He said: “It was kind of expected back then (2018), I wasn’t playing much, I wasn’t on the top of my form. You always have a bit of hope to be able to get into the squad – but at that point it wasn’t enough. It only motivated me even more to get back to my best and to prove to Gareth I want to be a part of his squad.
“Obviously with the situation with Covid maybe, if it was last year, I’m not too sure I would have been a part of it. I knew this season there was a chance to get back into the squad and I’ve worked so hard to try to prove Gareth I deserve to be there. Thankfully he has picked me and I’m here.”
Ben White - ‘Surreal’
Ben White admits it is “surreal” to be heading to the European Championship with England as he looks to continue to make his mother proud.
The Brighton defender was drafted into England’s 26-man squad to replace the injured Trent Alexander-Arnold.
He made his Three Lions debut off the bench against Austria last week and earned his first start in Sunday’s 1-0 win over Romania.
Manager Gareth Southgate selected White ahead of Ben Godfrey, James Ward-Prowse, Jesse Lingard and Ollie Watkins as the player to step in from the standby list.
Now the 23-year-old will be aiming to feature in the finals, having been surprised by his initial inclusion in Southgate’s plans.
“It’s been very surreal,” he said. “Obviously I didn’t think this was going to be happening, I thought I was going to be somewhere hot in Portugal or somewhere like that.
“It is mind-blowing really, I didn’t really expect any of this to happen and even the first bit being in the 33-man squad was enough for me so to make it to the final squad was unbelievable.
Sterling - ‘Can’t wait’
Sterling beamed from ear-to-ear as he spoke at St George’s Park, where England will be based throughout a Euros that they will largely play on home soil.
“Honestly, I can’t wait, man,” Sterling said. “I actually can’t wait. It’s been a long season but I’m here with England now. Been a good season with Man City, we’ve won some trophies. Disappointed that we didn’t get the Champions League.
“I’m playing at Wembley, the team’s playing at Wembley. For me, this is what dreams are made of and I’m just going into this with a lovely mindset.”
Foden - Gascoigne comparisons
Phil Foden insists he has no concerns over comparisons to Paul Gascoigne as he targets European Championship glory with England. Those comparisons have ramped up following Foden’s new haircut, which resembles the one which Gascoigne displayed at Euro 96.
“I remember watching highlights on the TV of Gazza – an unbelievable player,” he said.
“The full nation know what he means to the country and what he did, so it won’t be too bad if I try to bring a bit of Gazza on to the pitch.
“I don’t think you can listen too much to what people are saying. I have to try and keep my feet on the ground and just being me and keep doing what has done well for me this year.
The excitement has only built more after the England players spoke to the media with their first game against Croatia on Sunday 13th June at 2pm.
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