Football: WE CAN BE EURO KINGS; England Can Lift the Crown Says Neville
Byline: By JAMIE HEWITT
COCKY Phil Neville claims England can win next year's European Championships AND go on to lift the World Cup in 2006.
The big-headed Manchester Unite midfielder reckons England will be unstoppable if Sven-Goran Eriksson has full-strength squad to choose from.
England, who just scraped into next summer's finals after an ill-tempered goalless draw in Turkey last month, face Denmark today in a friendly at Old Trafford.
But Neville, who gave away the penalty that sent England crashing out of Euro 2000 at the hands of Romania in the group stages, is already dreaming of glory in Portugal.
He said: ``The major worry for everyone, particularly the manager, is making sure everyone stays fit and we go into next year's finals with a fully-fit squad.
``If that is the case, then I think we've got a great chance.
``As a team, and personally, we have all learned and improved a lot since the last European Championships.
``In our three games in that competition we didn't play particularly well and we had only actually qualified via a play-off.
``You probably wouldn't say our form was brilliant leading up to those finals, whereas this time there is an extra bit of spring in the step of the team.
``We qualified in good fashion and I feel there is a lot more to come from this team. I see the next couple of major championships as our best chance of winning a major honour.
``We've got the World Cup in Germany in 2006 so there will be no excuses in terms of the travelling and weather plus the fact the younger players will have that much more experience under their belts.
``A lot of them will also have played a great deal of Champions League football by then whichwill also help England.'' Neville has never played in a World Cup finals and feels he may be destined to miss out on tasting football's biggest stage even though 2004 would represent his third Euro finals if he is selected.
He said: ``I went into the last Euro tournament at left-back and wasn't worried about my place and it was the same when I got in to the squad for Euro 96.
``But I've missed out on the last two World Cups and feel that I am destined never to go to one. I just hope I can get into the squad for next summer.
``I'm in midfield now and all I can do is keep playing well for Manchester United.
``The manager picks who is in form for England and there are a lot of friendlies coming up.
``I'm hoping I'll get the chance to show Eriksson that I'm good enough to play at this level.''
But while Neville is busy dreaming about adding to his collection of winners medals, new England call-up Anthony Gardner has his feet firmly planted on the ground.
He paid tribute to the faith shown in him by his former Spurs manager Glenn Hoddle as he prepared to win his first England cap. …