England news

Walcott sounds warning to rivals

Arsenal star is not afraid of facing Spain

ESPN staff

Walcott came off the bench in the win against Ukraine© Getty Images

Theo Walcott was in confident mood as he fielded questions on England's upcoming Euro 2012 quarter-final date with Italy, declaring "we could beat anyone".

The general consensus is that England dodged a bullet when avoiding Spain in the last-eight after topping Group D ahead of France, but Walcott does not believe a squad increasing in confidence with every game would have had anything to fear from the world and European champions.

"Did we want to avoid Spain? I think it doesn't matter," Walcott said. "Every team you come against is going to be challenging. Playing the world champions, the European champions, is always going to be difficult but we will take anyone at this moment in time.

"The Italians will be tough but we've got some great players in that dressing room and I think we can go far. I feel we believe we could beat anyone the way we are playing as well.

"If we play to the best of our ability, who knows what can happen? Anything can happen. We defend well, we always know we can score goals so, if we keep clean sheets, we will definitely win.

“We haven't seen too much of them [Italy] yet. They have world class players, also players who can come off the bench and make a difference as well. But I think it's good for the lads not to worry about that now.

"I think we need to relax, mentally have a break, and the extra day by playing on Sunday is going to help everyone. Our target is to take it game by game and it's working so far. Everyone is doing their jobs right and trust each other which is important.

"Can we win it? We are not going to think like that. We've got a great chance but seven other teams have as well."

Coach Roy Hodgson, meanwhile, revealed he chose to watch the Spain game on Monday night meaning he had some catching up to do.

"Our preparation for Italy started on Wednesday," he said. "I watched the game between Spain and Croatia rather than Italy and Ireland partly thinking that if we were to do well, Spain would be a possible opponent.

"I have seen Italy play but I haven't studied them and how good they are. But they have been good enough to get out of a very tough group."

© ESPN

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