Sir Trevor Brooking excited by England progress at Euro 2012

 

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The Independent Football

Sir Trevor Brooking has admitted he would have snatched at the prospect of being able to look ahead to an England quarter-final meeting with Italy at the start of Euro 2012.

The Three Lions booked their last-eight berth by beating co-hosts Ukraine in Donetsk last night.

With France suffering a shock defeat to Sweden, it left England at the top of Group D, giving them an extra day's rest before facing Italy, rather than tackling world champions Spain as they had anticipated.

"If you had said to me a month ago how long it was going to last, I would have snatched your hand off to be having to a chat looking forward to the quarter-finals," Brooking told Sky Sports News.

"It has probably helped that expectation was low.

"The manager came in a bit late. Then suddenly people like Frank Lampard, Gareth Barry and Gary Cahill were injured. Younger players; Chris Smalling, Kyle Walker, Jack Rodwell, Jack Wilshere aren't here either.

"We knew Wayne was going to miss the first two games everyone was saying: 'Are we going to be strong enough? Can we score the goals?'

"People thought we would do well to get out of the group. Initially that is what we all said.

"Here we are, having topped the group. But like any sporting occasion you get a little bit greedy."

While even Hodgson has admitted he would prefer to meet Italy than Spain, England cannot afford to underestimate the 2006 World Cup winners.

Of all European nations, only Germany match Italian performances in major tournaments.

However, after watching Russia and Holland bow out over the weekend, Brooking is wary about taking anything for granted.

"It is such an unpredictable tournament," he said.

"Everyone said we would probably end up with Spain because we were second in the group. Then France lose. Russia got off to that great start. Everyone spoke about Holland, who have gone home without a point.

"You cannot anticipate. You just have to focus.

"Everyone is talking about us playing against Germany. We know that won't be the case unless we get through against Italy.

"And in Italy they are probably talking about facing Germany.

"We just have to appreciate we have come quite a way in three weeks and we don't want to waste it now."

PA

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