Warsaw : England manager Roy Hodgson insists his side’s preparations have been faultless ahead of their Euro 2012 opener against France on Monday, despite the mounting injury crisis that has dampened the usually fervent expectations.
The Three Lions will be without influential midfielders Frank Lampard and Gareth Barry, while 81-cap veteran Rio Ferdinand has been omitted from the squad with his nominal replacement Gary Cahill also out of the tournament having fractured his jaw in a friendly against Belgium just over a week ago.
Hodgson, who himself has been in the job little over a month following Fabio Capello’s sudden resignation earlier this year, insisted that his side had been given adequate time to prepare and that his players would not be hampered by either the humid conditions or the fact Monday’s game takes place in Donetsk, a two-hour flight from their training base in Krakow.
"It`s hot for both teams," said Hodgson, referring to the temperature which is likely to be around 33 degrees at kick-off.
"We won’t be using that as an excuse the journey was exactly what we do with European games at home.”
"Everything has been very well planned and I can’t actually believe the quality of preparation. It’s been no hardship to take a short plane journey. We`ve got the opportunity to rest of this evening to prepare for the game. Personally I like being in Krakow, I like the facilities and the performances will not suffer.”
Those sentiments were echoed by captain Steven Gerrard, who likened the travelling between host venues as akin to preparing for a Champions League assignment.
He said: "There are no negative effects and the squad are happy. We`ve had a couple of hours rest and we can look forward to final session and then be ready for the French tomorrow.”
"It`s hot for both teams and we won`t be using that as an excuse. The journey was exactly what we do with European games at home with our clubs and plenty of the players in the squad have that kind of experience."
England`s task is a daunting one against a rejuvenated France side who are protecting a long 21-match unbeaten record, but Hodgson insists that will count for little when the two teams renew acquaintances for the fist time since Les Bleus coasted to a victory at Wembley in November 2010.
He said: "We`ll find out how good we are at end of tournament, it`s premature to make bold statements now. All I can say is that it’s been an intensive three weeks but I feel I have been very quickly accepted by the group and feel comfy in my position.”
"That`s somewhat unusual, normally you need more time but the players have made it easy to get my feet under the table early.
"It`s a stern challenge no question. France are in excellent form and 21 matches unbeaten at any level is a fine achievement. But when you come to European Championships to some extent having good or bad form not necessarily decisive.”
"It`s about how the team will be able to play on the night how they adjust to circumstances which will be different in Donetsk and what you can do as a football team."