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The former international forward reckons that the pessimism surrounding the Three Lions could turn out to be a boost at Euro 2012 if the new boss is shrewd

By Ed Aarons

Former England striker Teddy Sheringham has backed Roy Hodgson to lead the Three Lions to a successful Euro 2012 campaign and believes that balancing a blend of youth and experience will be vital to their chances.

After replacing Fabio Capello at the end of April, the former West Brom boss won his first game in charge against Norway on May 26, but his side face a sterner test on Saturday in their final warm-up match against a Belgium side packed with top-class players at Wembley, with the opening encounter against France on June 11 fast approaching.

Sheringham, who scored 11 goals for England in 51 appearances, feels that another victory would be a major boost ahead of the showdown with Les Bleus in Donetsk.

“I don’t think we played great against Norway, but there was an understanding of what the manager wanted,” he told

Roy Hodgson's men feature in Group D of Euro 2012
“If he can get that across even more so in training and if we get a good result on Saturday, that will breed even more confidence.

"Then, England could go into a major competition where not a lot is expected and sometimes you can be pleasantly surprised.

"Let’s go into it with a not-so-optimistic view and see where it takes us this time.”

The withdrawals of Gareth Barry and Frank Lampard through injury have left Hodgson short of experience in central midfield.

Captain Steven Gerrard started alongside Tottenham’s Scott Parker against Norway and Sheringham argues that their influence on some of the team’s younger players could be vital.

“In any tournament you have got to have a gel. It is not all about youngsters and it is not all about experience,” he observed.

“It's about keeping the ball, making the other team work because we're always chasing the ball. It's amazing how you feel tired when you're chasing the ball but when the other team are chasing it then they feel tired.

“Hopefully Gerrard can play in central midfield and get forward as well because he has got the legs, he can get forward - he can play anywhere, the way I see it. He's one of our world-class players, a fantastic player.

"I'm glad he's captain to give him a bit of confidence to say to him: 'Stevie, you're the main man, go out there and show it'.”

"Gerrard can play anywhere. He is one of our world-class players - a fantastic player. I'm glad to have him as captain"
- Teddy Sheringham
One notable absentee from the squad is Manchester United midfielder Michael Carrick. The 30-year-old told Hodgson that he did not want to be considered for a bit-part role in the squad and will not be travelling to Poland and Ukraine.

Yet Sheringham feels that his absence – and that of injured Arsenal midfielder Jack Wilshere – will be keenly felt.

“He's not there, which is a big shame. Jack Wilshere's out too, which is a big shame for me,” the ex-Manchester United man continued.

"You want to see players who can keep the ball... Carrick is not in the squad; I'd have liked him in there"
"They are crafty players, they can thread a pass. When it becomes tight you don't just want to see a ball played round a corner and given back to them. You want to see players who can keep the ball.

"The more players we have who can do that in this tournament the better. Carrick is not in the squad; I'd have liked him in there. At the same time, I'm backing Roy Hodgson as well and I've got a different view.”

Sheringham was part of the England side that lost to Germany on penalties in the semi-final of Euro 96 on home soil.

That remains the Three Lions’ best-ever performance at a European Championships after failing to qualify for the finals in Austria and Switzerland four years ago.

This time around, the former Millwall, Nottingham Forest, and Tottenham marksman is tipping Germany and Spain as favourites but believes that England’s last Group D match against Ukraine could be vital for their chances.

"At Euro 96 we all saw the value of the home fans and how things can escalate if you get on a roll at the start and I think they could be the dark horse,” he opined.

“It’s a tough one but whatever group we were in would be difficult. You don’t want to be going into the Ukraine game having to win so we need to get results in the first two matches.”

Back England to win the Euros at their biggest ever odds of 16/1. Ladbrokes, game on!