Gareth Southgate insists England can handle expectation as bookies make them favourites

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Gareth Southgate insists his players can handle expectation levels and are ready for the “huge challenge” of winning the Euros.

The whole nation has been swept away with excitement after England beat bitter rivals Germany to reach the quarter finals against Ukraine in Rome on Saturday.

Some bookies have installed England as favourites to win the tournament, with the semi-finals and final played at Wembley, and this could be the best chance to lift a trophy since the 1966 World Cup.

England boss Southgate guided them to the World Cup semi finals three years ago and believes his players may lack experience in some areas but are ready for the expectation levels.

Southgate said: “I said at the start of this tournament that we have got to accept the expectation and have to be able to handle that and also we want the fans to be excited.

Southgate insists England can handle the expectation
(Image: AFP via Getty Images)

“Four years ago, we wanted this team to become relevant again and we are making steps towards that being the case so of course, we want to give people nights like against Germany.

“We are chuffed that they enjoyed their afternoon whether they were here or at home and absolutely we have to make sure our focus is 100 percent.

“Although we have a lot who were with us in the World Cup semi-final, we have a lot who are relatively inexperienced.

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“The two midfield players, Declan Rice and Kalvin Phillips, are very inexperienced internationally and do not have any European experience club-wise either and they were up against a World Cup winner and a Champions League winner in Toni Kroos and Leon Goretzka.

“A huge challenge. They did brilliantly. Their energy and athleticism was really important. We will need to show that again.”

Southgate also warned that England now must face a different challenge against Ukraine because they will not have the Wembley crowd behind them – and are expected to win.

Southgate added: “That is exactly the challenge. It is a dangerous moment because the emotion, physically, and psychologically, the energy from the stadium is going to be hard to recreate so we have a completely different sort of challenge now over the next few days.

“In fairness to the players, they were straight onto that and they understood that, even as I was on the pitch at the end and back in the dressing room. That is the case. We won’t have the thousands of fans on Saturday.

“We are going to have to do it without that and against a difficult opponent, which will be viewed differently by our public but not by us. So, we have got a lot of challenges that are so different to the Germany game to get right.”

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