Another step forward
Monday, 15 June, 2009
James Milner is hoping it can be third time lucky for him in the Euros.
James Milner is backing England's Young Lions to roar in Sweden and finally erase their European heartache.
The Aston Villa midfielder was part of the side which suffered a dramatic 13-12 penalty shoot-out defeat against eventual winners Holland in the semi-final two years ago.
England face Finland in their opening game of this summer's European Championship Finals on Monday having impressed through the qualifying stages.
And Milner, who was also in the team which was beaten in the play-offs against France four years ago, says Stuart Pearce's men are determined to make up for lost time after their painful exit at the hands of the Dutch.
"The same faces have been here a while now and I've been involved in three campaigns," said Milner.
"In the first, we lost in the play-offs to France and in the second we lost on penalties in the semis.
"Hopefully we can make it another step this time. We've only conceded one goal in the group and that was a penalty. It's a great testament to the squad.
"We're confident of not conceding goals, and there aren't going to be too many games where we don't score a goal."
England must also see off both Spain and Germany if they are to qualify for the semi-finals after being handed a tough draw in Group B but Milner, who has won a record 42 caps at Under-21 level for England, says the chance to shine this summer and claim a place in the senior team has given the whole squad extra motivation.
"Players have to perform at their best to force their way in and everyone is desperate to force their way in," he added.
"It's a great thing for a manager when he looks around at the bench and sees that players won't weaken things.
"Whoever comes on will give another burst of energy - and we'll kick on."