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France hold no fears for determined Downing

ESPN staff
June 7, 2012 « London 2012 just the start for GB basketball | Chartbeat test »
Stewart Downing is hoping to start for England against France © Getty Images
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Stewart Downing has insisted England do not fear France ahead of their Euro 2012 opener next Monday.

Downing, 27, is vying for a starting berth for England's opening match at Poland and Ukraine amid competition from the likes of teenager Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, who is keeping the winger "on his toes".

Former Les Bleus manager Raymond Domenech recently labelled his nation's test versus the Three Lions as "easy", with England's expectation levels low following a spate of injuries and poor showings at international tournaments.

Liverpool's Downing, though, is bullish about his country's chances. Speaking at a press conference on Thursday, he said: "A lot people are writing us off. It is a chance to prove them wrong.

"We are a good team. We have good players. We don't fear France. Obviously they are a good team, but so are we. We know their strengths and weaknesses. It will be a tough game for us. We are confident we can get a result against them."

Downing's inclusion in Hodgson's 23-man squad has been criticised by some, following a season without a Premier League assist or goal for Liverpool, but the midfielder is taking no notice of the negativity.

He said: "My aim was to be in this squad, now I'm here and I want to do well. I am over the moon to be here. I am here to make an impression."

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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