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Gerrard defends England commitment

ESPN staff
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Steven Gerrard has urged fans to back the side © AP
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Steven Gerrard has hit back at critics of England players' commitment to the national team, insisting everyone involved is "desperate" to succeed.

In an interview with the Mirror, the Three Lions skipper urged fans to back Roy Hodgson's side in this week's World Cup qualifiers against Montenegro and Poland.

Although England have come under scrutiny for their supposed lack of fight on the international stage, Gerrard insists his passion to play for his country has never wavered.

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Is Roy Hodgson completely to blame for England's current woes? © Getty Images

"It's nonsense to say that. Nonsense," Gerrard said. "The pain and the agony. How long that lasted after we didn't qualify for Euro 2008. I wish you could bottle that and show it to people who say those things and doubt how much we care.

"We care. Trust me, we care. No one cares more than the players. We understand the fans and media are passionate, but that's certainly the case in the dressing room.

"It's a shame the supporters and certain people can't go into the dressing room and see how we prepare and how much we want this. The word I use when people bring it up is just 'nonsense'.

"If we didn't care, we wouldn't be here. I'd be out of this set-up. Nobody is forced to play for England. You play because you want to, because you're desperate to, because it's what you dreamed of from an early age.

"When you win for England, play well, get on the score sheet or achieve something together, there's no better buzz. It matters when you play for your club. But when it's England, you're playing for your country. Everybody is desperate to be part of a successful England team."

Gerrard also denied England are unfairly treated by the national media and believes his team-mates must learn to accept criticism when it is due.

"I don't think we get too much criticism," he said. "We're England. We take the pats on the back when we play well and beat the likes of Brazil. But when we don't perform well we have to accept the criticism, take it on the chin. That's part and parcel of being an England player."

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