England vs San Marino: Team spirit is excellent says James Milner

England face San Marino at Wembley on Thursday

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The Independent Football

James Milner is grateful for the team spirit within the England football squad as Kevin Pietersen's autobiography sparks a fresh round of recriminations amongst the nation's cricketers.

Pietersen has sparked further controversy with strong criticism of a number of his former team-mates, but Milner said that was a world away from the football team - where the strength of friendships had helped them come through the tough times.

"You're always going to get the same answer from players, no one will say there's a terrible atmosphere, but honestly they are a great bunch of lads," Milner said in a press conference.

"A lot of the players have played together at club level or in the youth set-up and its a tight-knit group. There are always people sat there for a long time after dinner chatting away and enjoying each other's company and that's what you need going into tournaments and coming out of bad times in tournaments.

"That's when you need your team spirit. And going away to Switzerland, very highly-ranked, had a good tournament, and the talk around the England team wasn't great going into that game and people saying what a difficult game it was, and that's when you need your team spirit to come through to go there and get a result and we did that and played very well.

"Teams with less spirit and less togetherness might not have done that."