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Jim Knight takes a look at how Roy Hodgson's side may fare this summer. With the absence of Wayne Rooney and a long injury list, he's backing England not to progress from Group D

Roy Hodgson has a 100 per cent record as England manager heading into this summer's tournament after 1-0 friendly wins over Norway and Belgium, but are those results a good barometer by which England fans can judge what to expect from the Three Lions in Poland and Ukraine?

The days and weeks leading up to a major tournament are often filled with hope and expectation for England fans, but the team do not always perform to anywhere near the standard some people expect of them.

That may be down to the level of expectation being too high but it must also be considered that England are not the force in international football that some believe them to be. A fact reflected in the quotes as large as 14/1 (15.0) in places for them to win Euro 2012.

Group D pits England against co-hosts Ukraine, Sweden and, firstly, France, who are available at 10/1 (11.0) with William Hill to win the tournament.

A price which has been cut, having started around 12/1 when the draw was made and mirrors the drift on Hodgson's side as the injury list continues to lengthen.

But it is not all doom and gloom. Although not pretty, the two wins in the run up to the tournament have shown that Hodgson has a plan. That plan is built upon a solid defence, soaking up pressure when required and ensuring the forwards take their chances when they are presented, just as Danny Welbeck did so well against Belguim.

Whether those tactics will be as effective during Euro 2012 remains to be seen. The 6/5 (2.20) available on England conceding under three goals may appeal to those who believe that the defence will remain as sturdy as it has over the last 180 minutes.

Three to four goals is priced at 5/4 (2.25) and over five goals is the outside shot at 7/2 (4.50). In terms of goals markets, the 6/4 (2.50) on offer for England to concede the least goals of any Group D team is worthy of consideration given the defensive nature of the tactics but that doesn't mean the results will live up to expectations.

France are now 6/4 (2.50) favourites with William Hill for the opening Group D fixture with England available at 19/10 (2.90).

For me, there's definitely no value in backing the Three Lions at those prices against a team who have grown in stature and confidence under the leadership of Laurent Blanc.

Wayne Rooney is suspended for the first two matches so the goals will have to come from elsewhere, but the Manchester United forward is still 6/1 (7.0) to finish as England's top scorer, which seems way too short to back considering he may only get one game.

Danny Welbeck is also available at 6/1 (7.0) with William Hill while Andy Carroll is 7/1 (8.0). The best bet here is Ashley Young at 13/2 (7.50); he has been in great goalscoring form for the national side and with Rooney absent he may well be pushed further forward to support either Carroll or Welbeck against France and Sweden.

He is one of the few players in the squad with genuine pace and the flair to worry the opposition and has shown how lethal he can be in front of goal in the last few months. At such a big price he's the value bet in the England markets.

In terms of elimination, William Hill have England as 15/8 (2.88) to exit at the quarter-final stage, 9/2 (5.50) to lose in the semi-finals and 15/2 (8.50) to finish as runner up but in terms of value, a group stage exit at 13/8 (2.63) is worthy of serious consideration.

France is a tough game which I don't expect Hodgson's side to win and Sweden may well be set up to frustrate England and force a draw, a tactic that could prove successful if Hodgson continues with his defensive tactics.

That leaves a final group game against co-hosts Ukraine, and host nations have a habit of over performing when playing on their own turf in major European tournaments. That is a fixture list that could see England catching an early flight home and 13/8 (2.63) with William Hill is a price that looks too large to turn down.


BET
OF THE
DAY
BEST BET
VALUE BET
England to be knocked out at the group stage at 13/8 (2.63) with William Hill
Ashley Young to be England's top scorer at 13/2 (7.50) with William Hill

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Jim Knight is Betting Editor at Goal.com and has been tipping football games since he was old enough to place a bet. He is a Leicester City fan, writer and member of the We Are Going Up Podcast

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