England are solely focused on Ukraine, claims Gerrard

The 32-year-old Liverpool midfielder insists the Three Lions will not even think about the Euro 2012 quarter-finals until they navigate their way past the co-hosts
England captain Steven Gerrard remained cautious ahead of his side's Group D showdown with Ukraine, insisting he is fully focused on the game and hasn’t even considered the knockout stages of the tournament.

Should England avoid defeat on Tuesday night against the co-hosts, they will safely proceed to the quarter-finals of the competition where they will face either Spain or Italy.

And, despite the vital 3-2 win against Sweden last Friday making the Three Lions' passage easier, the Liverpool man has emphasised the need to turn all concentration to the game in Donetsk.

Rob Stewart | England Expert

England manager Roy Hodgson really should have known better when it
came to handling Wayne Rooney.

He should be easing the striker back in the fold following a two-match ban
for violent conduct rather than hyping him up. In likening him to
Pele, he is tempting fate.

Rooney has anger-management issues so being compared to arguably the best player the world has ever seen is bound to increase the pressure on him to perform, which is never a wise move.

“I am trying to force myself not to even talk about quarter-finals at this stage,” Gerrard told reporters.

“It would be very disrespectful to the opposition, who are very dangerous judging by the tapes we have watched of them.

“Their combination play in the middle and around the box is good. If I started talking about quarter-finals and we slipped up I would never forgive myself. Let’s deal with the quarter-final, and what to expect, if we get there.”

The midfielder also revealed that the atmosphere in the current England squad is far superior to that during a disastrous 2010 World Cup campaign.

England stumbled through the group stages in South Africa, and were well beaten by a youthful German side in the second-round, but Gerrard is confident the mood in the camp is far more positive this time round.

“The reason we feel like this is because of how we are playing. We are playing well and we are playing positively. We are enjoying how we are playing,” the 32-year-old added.

“Everyone knows that in South Africa the team weren’t playing at a good level so it becomes difficult and hard work. But we can’t wait for this game because when you are playing well it breeds confidence and belief.

“We have got Wayne Rooney back as well and everything is positive.”