England captain David Beckham is ready for a tough test in England's Euro 2004 q
England captain David Beckham is ready for a tough test in England's Euro 2004 qualifier against Macedonia tonight...
After only drawing 2-2 with the Balkan side back in October 2002, Sven's men know just what they are up against in the Gradski Stadium this evening. Nobody in the England camp will be underestimating the threat that Dragan Kanatlarovski's side will pose, least of all England skipper David Beckham.
"It will be very tough. I think it will be one of the hardest games in the group actually," says Beckham.
"We saw what Macedonia can do in the last game we played against them. People say we underestimated them as a team although I say we never go into any game underestimating any team or any players.
"I think they are quietly confident that they can get a draw or a win. They were predicting a 2-1 win or a 1-1 draw earlier in the week.
"I am not going to predict any scores but we are confident that we can get the result that we need."
However, the Real Madrid man believes that this England squad has what it takes to get the three points in Skopje before moving on to Wednesday's match against Liechtenstein at Old Trafford.
He said: "The environment that we are in doesn't change the way we feel about the football game. It doesn't matter where you are or what environment you are staying in.
"This is a nice country. We show each country respect and we show each team respect wherever we are staying or whatever pitch we are playing on. It's the same for the other team as well and we have to perform.
Despite the injuries picked up by key players such as Steven Gerrard, Rio Ferdinand and Paul Scholes, Beckham is confident that England can get the three points required in Skopje.
He said: "I think there are always responsibilities on players and my responsibility has not changed and that is to work hard and be the best captain I can.
"But the responsibility is not just on me for this game. People have said we've got a weakened side because of the players that are not playing.
"But I definitely don't see it like that. We've got the players that can come in and do more than a job. We are confident these players can come in and do as well as the ones who usually play."
One of England's most impressive performers in recent matches has been Frank Lampard. Having had a goal cruelly disallowed in the Slovakia qualifier in June, the Chelsea man scored a cracking goal against Croatia last month.
Tonight's game will be another opportunity for Lampard to stake his growing claim for a starting spot in England's midfield.
The England captain said: "The way Frank Lampard has been playing for Chelsea is the reason why he is here and why he is playing like he is today is because he is playing with a lot of great players there.
"He is learning a lot. He is still a young player but he is coming into the team and performing and playing well and impressing the manager."
The England starting line-up will be announced here on TheFA.com at 4.30pm ... Stay logged on for that and further news from here in Skopje...