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England too scared to perform claims Craig Bellamy

Wales striker Craig Bellamy believes the pressure placed on England's players has left them scared stiff and unable to perform to their potential on the international stage.

England's performances at last summer's World Cup drew much criticism after they crashed out to a young and largely unheralded Germany side in the last 16.

Bellamy is preparing to face England in a Euro 2012 qualifier in Cardiff this weekend and has stoked the fires ahead of the game by claiming the intense media spotlight on Wales' cross-border rivals has prevented them from producing their best.

"Before the World Cup you had certain players being lined up to be knighted," Bellamy told the Daily Mail.

"You're going into it with the best centre-half in the world, the best centre-forward in the world.

"But tournaments don't work out like that. Germany were brilliant because they went with a group of players who were given freedom.

"England just looked - because so much was expected of them - tense, so tense.

"At the World Cup it was just too rigid. I thought they got broken in between the lines. It just didn't look right."

But Bellamy believes it is not just at showpiece tournaments that the pressure gets to England's players, but also in lower-profile matches.

"Are England players scared? I remember Steven Gerrard, before playing Andorra, saying he didn't want to give the ball away because he was afraid of the boos," he added.

"That's Steven Gerrard, one of the greatest players in the world over the past 10 years. He felt that, so imagine that environment?

"You look at the players, they got to Champions League finals. Do the players want it? Of course they do, they don't play for England for money."