• Euro 2012

Gerrard defends Jordan Henderson call-up

ESPN staff
June 2, 2012

England captain Steven Gerrard is "quietly confident" of his nation's chances at Euro 2012 despite their recent injury woes, and he has given his backing to Liverpool team-mate Jordan Henderson.

Roy Hodgson's England head into the tournament at Poland and Ukraine missing a number of key players, particularly in midfield. Jack Wilshere, Gareth Barry and most recently Frank Lampard have been ruled out of the competition, further lowering expectation levels.

Gerrard, though, is optimistic: "Are expectations coming down all the time? Maybe with the supporters and people looking at this squad with no Wilshere, (Tom) Cleverley, Barry, Lampard.

"Of course, people wonder whether we're capable of coping without those players. But we can't control what people say and think. We've got to get on with it and give it our best shot.

"We're quietly confident but we don't want to raise expectations unnecessarily. We're all aware that we've under-delivered in previous tournaments. We don't want to put too much pressure on ourselves. We want to try and enjoy the tournament and hopefully we can play at a better level."

Gerrard also defended Liverpool team-mate Jordan Henderson, who has been called up as the replacement for Lampard, amid doubts over his current ability following a poor season at Anfield.

"Jordan has had a little bit of criticism but, credit to him, he's played through it. He was getting stronger and stronger towards the end of the season," Gerrard said. "He did well when he came on against Norway. The manager's seen a lot of him in the Under-21s where he's been fantastic. He's got a very bright future.

"People judge Jordan on his price tag (£20 million), rather than his age, his potential and what he's going to do in the future. He's still got everything ahead of him. I was nowhere near the finished article at 20-21, and had a lot of learning and improving to do, and I'm sure Jordan will do the same.

"He's a very good passer, very fit, looks after himself, doesn't touch alcohol, has got a body a lot of footballers would be jealous of. He's a big strong lad who can get about the pitch."

England take on Belgium on Saturday evening in their final warm-up game before their Euro 2012 opener against France in Group D on June 11.

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