Euro 2016: England's Hart keen to banish demons of the past

Sports Friday 10/June/2016 18:15 PM
By: Times News Service
Euro 2016: England's Hart keen to banish demons of the past

Chantilly: Goalkeeper Joe Hart is keen to forget England's failures at previous tournaments and put his trust in the new young squad at the European Championship in France this month.
A perfect qualifying campaign and warm-up victories over Turkey, Australia and Portugal have raised hopes Roy Hodgson's charges might win a first major trophy since England's World Cup triumph 50 years ago.
Hart has been part of England's squad at three earlier tournaments but has never progressed beyond the quarter-finals.
"I've gone into every tournament confident and felt like we've been ready. So for me to say it's different this time would be wrong," Hart told reporters on Thursday.
"But they've gone, they are the past, this is a new one, a new set of players we're going to give it all we've got."
England's squad is the youngest at the tournament, with only four survivors from Euro 2012. Hodgson has indicated captain Wayne Rooney will be a mandatory pick, but the form of Harry Kane and Jamie Vardy means England's record goal scorer may be shoe-horned into midfield.
That will probably displace Delle Alli from his preferred attacking midfield berth and should Rooney, 30, again struggle at an international tournament, Hodgson's loyalty to the Manchester United captain will be questioned.
But for Hart, there was no doubting the skipper's importance.
"Wayne is such a key part of the squad, and accessible to all the players," said Hart. "There is definitely a connection and age doesn't really factor into this team."
Hodgson's England have struggled for tournament goals despite a wealth of attacking talent - since a 3-2 victory over Sweden in their second match of Euro 2012 the Three Lions have netted just three times in five outings, only one of which was won.
Defensively, England also appear suspect, with Chris Smalling's waning 2016 form exemplified by his foolish red card in May's FA Cup Final, while preferred centre back partner Gary Cahill toiled in Chelsea's miserable failure to defend their league title.
Yet Hart bristled when asked if he had faith in England's rearguard.
"Of course I do, I fully believe in the guys we've got but we are going to attack as a team and defend as a team," he added. "We work hard, are well regimented and are ready."
England begin their campaign in Group B against Russia on Saturday before facing Wales and Slovakia.