Gerrard warns England not to underestimate Ukraine

The Liverpool captain states the Three Lions should respect their World Cup qualifying opponents & insists he's ready to help the side's younger members as he approaches 100 caps
Midfielder Steven Gerrard has urged his England team-mates to give Ukraine the respect they deserve as the two sides prepare to clash in their 2014 World Cup qualifier at Wembley on Tuesday evening.

The two countries met in the group stages of Euro 2012 in the summer, with England edging to a narrow 1-0 win but the tournament co-hosts gave the Three Lions a mighty scare before eventually succumbing.

Few would forget another ‘phantom goal’ being ruled out, despite Marko Devic’s shot appearing to cross the line before John Terry cleared.

And despite Wayne Rooney’s winner that day, Gerrard warns Ukraine are far too good a side to disregard as England look to impress again following Friday’s 5-0 away win in Moldova.

He told the Daily Mirror: "There were times in the Euros when we gave them too much respect and stood off them and they had a few dangerous opportunities to score. Over the 90 minutes, they could feel hard done by not to have got at least a point.

"The difference for this game is we didn't know too much about Moldova before that game. We performed really well, but this game will be a bigger and tougher test.
11/1 England are 11/1 with Bet365 to beat Ukraine 3-1 on Tuesday

"If you stand off them [Ukraine] and give them too much respect, they have players who can hurt us. We need to be on it against them.

"They are a group of players who have played together for a long time. Technically they are very good. If you stand-off these players, they can hurt you.

"But we won the game in the Euros, did what we needed to do, and hopefully we can get the same outcome.

"They have got our respect. They are a dangerous team. If you show them too much respect, they can hurt you.

"We were strong defensively against them in the summer and we got the job done. They will have a respect for us as well,” he added.

Both Gerrard and left-back Ashley Cole are close to joining England's exclusive club of 'Centurions'. Gerrard is in line to win his 98th cap for England if he features against Ukraine after making his debut against the Eastern Europeans as a fresh-faced 19-year-old, 12 years ago.

Although anticipating his 100th cap, the Liverpool captain insists it is more about getting another three points en route to World Cup qualification.

"It's a dream come true when you get your first cap at Wembley. 100 caps would be a nice touch, for both me and Ashley," he added.

"The important focus is to get to the World Cup - individual achievements are always nice along the way but I'm more interested in the points against Ukraine.”

And Gerrard is now viewed as one of the more elders statesmen in the team, but insists he is happy to help the younger generation evolve within the England set-up, including Liverpool team mate Raheem Sterling.

"When I was selected, I was judged by the rest of the squad. It'll be interesting to see how it works with Raheem Sterling," he continued.

"It opens the debate we've had before, about the amount of foreigners coming into the league. I don't think these questions would be asked if everyone was fit and available - Jack Wilshere, Wayne Rooney, Ashley Cole would all be here.

"We're speaking now because we have a lot of drop-outs and injuries. When everyone's fit and available, we'll be fine.

"It's a pleasure to help these lads. They are fantastic talents."

And the 31-year-old is keen to continue the national sporting euphoria that has built up after a quite remarkable summer for Great Britain.

"It will be one of the higher attendances throughout Europe and on the back of the Olympics and Paralympics, it is incredible," he said.

"The onus is on the players to excite them and put in a good performance and get six points from our first two games."