England fans 'quietly confident'

Donbass Arena, Donetsk, Ukraine Photo: PA

Like most England fans, I've been waiting the best part of two years for tonight's game. But unlike every competition we've been in since 1996 I'm not expecting us to win this one. Maybe as I get older I just get more realistic, or maybe it's just that our side lacks much in the way of standout quality.

Also the late arrival of West Brom manager Roy Hodsgon, given just 40 days to prepare for the Euro's seems a tough ask of any coach, let alone one that didn't appear to be first choice of many fans and players.

But, I am determined to be positive. And England do have strengths. John Terry, at his best, is one of the best in the world, so to is Joleon Lescott (if he can avoid injury) and Ashley Cole just keeps getting better.

While in goal, there's no one I'd rather have, of any nationality, than one time Shrewsbury and Birmingham man Joe Hart.

In fact England looks to be defensively in decent shape across the park, finding goals will be harder, Rooney is suspended, maybe Steven Gerrard will hit a 30 yard screamer like he did in the good old days or maybe Danny Welbeck or Jermaine Defoe will choose this tournament to become England heroes.

But despite everything I've said, expectations are as low as I can remember by England's own fans,

Just this morning I was sent a real mixed bag of views from fans on twitter, among them:

  • Dean Roberts-Lowe said "England v France. Start of Summer. Thames Jubilee Pageant. Cheryl Cole singing - 4 great English disappointments in June"
  • Luke Dunn wrote "both teams miserably matched could be a bore draw"
  • Ben Rimington was more hopeful "Quietly optimistic and think that France are slightly overrated going into the game. We could pull a 1-0 out the bag!"
  • Will Sheldon summed up the feelings of many "can't wait, shirt's ironed and pub has been chosen to watch it in! Bring it on!"

Bring it on indeed. France are the favourites, but who knows England might just revel at being clear underdogs.

PC Andy Pearson from Lincolnshire outside the Golden Lion in Donetsk, Ukraine. Credit: Lewis Whyld/PA Wire