England should 'easily' reach Euro 2012 knockout stages, says Eriksson

The former Three Lions boss believes that Roy Hodgson's side should advance from Group D without a problem, despite the absence of Wayne Rooney for their opening two games
Former England boss Sven-Goran Eriksson believes that the Three Lions should "easily" qualify from their Euro 2012group.

The 64-year-old feels that even without the suspended Wayne Rooney, Roy Hodgson’s side should have no problem advancing from Group D, which also contains France, Sweden and host nation Ukraine.

In his column for the Times of India, the Swede wrote: “Despite Rooney’s unavailability, I would think that England should easily reach the knockout stage from the group and their real test should start from there.

“However, how far England would progress in the competition would depend on whether their experienced midfield stays fit throughout the tournament and how soon Hodgson can put together a perfect combination on the field.

“He gets two friendlies to work out what he wants to do in Ukraine and has already got off to a solid start with a victory against Norway on Saturday. I wish him the best for the tournament.”

Eriksson also believes that the new boss will be under more pressure to succeed given the Three Lions' failure to qualify for Euro 2008 and the fact that England have never won the competition.

He added: “I have been the manager of England at the World Cup in 2010 and I know the pressure the English team manager has to handle.

“The pressure would be all the more on Roy Hodgson, since England had failed to qualify for the last edition of the competition and the fans would be expecting that their star players would bring home the trophy that has eluded them since the start of the championship.”

The Swede went on to hail Hodgson's decision to leave Rio Ferdinand out of the squad and opined that he got his selection spot on, particularly with the inclusion of Arsenal's young star Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain.

“Hodgson’s job becomes all the more tough, considering that the English team manager hasn’t got any time to experiment with the combination he would like to take to Poland and Ukraine since he was appointed at the last minute," the 64-year-old continued.

“However, I would give the thumbs-up to Hodgson for the way he went about picking his squad and had the courage to drop someone like Rio Ferdinand after considering his fitness worries.

“The other decision that surprised many was the choice of the young Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain. While many may criticize Hodgson for picking a rookie in the squad despite knowing that Wayne Rooney is suspended for the first two games, I think the coach has made an intelligent choice.

“From whatever I have seen of Chamberlain, he has the speed on the flanks and can play in any position. I had found myself in a similar situation when I picked Theo Walcott in the national squad for the World Cup but it ultimately worked out wonderfully."