England are one of six Euro title contenders believes Mansfield Town boss Nigel Clough

Mansfield Town manager Nigel Clough believes England are one of six nations that will potentially lift the Euro 2020 trophy in four weeks time.

By John Lomas
Monday, 7th June 2021, 5:29 pm
Nigel Clough in action for England against Malaysia in 1991.
Nigel Clough in action for England against Malaysia in 1991.

The eyes of the nation will be on Wembley this Sunday as Gareth Southgate's men aim for revenge over Croatia, who beat them in the last World Cup semi-final, in the Group D opener.

Clough, who won 14 full England caps himself, said: “Along with England, your Spains, your Italys, your Germanys, your Frances, your Hollands are always strong sides.

“But, they will be the same as us and thinking can we hit form together? Can we gel and get that balance.

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“I think the winners will come from one of those six.”

On why England are the bookies' favourites, he added: “We have so many good young players. We're not just banking on two or three making the difference as usual.

“When you've got Kane, Sterling, Sancho, Bellingham and all these sort of players you have got quite a few attacking options.

“We have done well defensively and been solid in the last couple of friendlies.

“But you have to score goals and I think we have a number of players that can create and score goals.”

Clough can vividly remember his England days and how it felt.

“You are completely aware of how much you are representing the country and how much responsibility is on your shoulders,” he said.

“It is there but you don't want it to weigh too heavily. You are certainly aware of it.

“Apart from that you are shielded a little bit from it all. They will be tucked away in a hotel with no access to media and social media.

"You have to stay in your own little bubble and concentrate on everything within and not outside.

“It was a great experience for me. I played under Sir Bobby Robson and Graham Taylor – two wonderful people to play under. It was just a wonderful experience.

“The manager is crucial to things, but it's the whole package of how they are looked after over the four weeks that counts and I think England have got much better over the years of not making the camps too stringent.

"Players have got to be relaxed and have a bit of time off as well as the hard work they will do.

“We have just come off a hard, condensed season and they have to bear that in mind.”

On the Croatia game, he said the most important thing was to not lose it.

“The players will want to get off to a good start – win the first one if you can but, if not, you don't want to start with a defeat. That makes it very difficult to qualify then,” he said.

“It's always a nervous one, like the first game of the season, and it generally doesn't have too much of a reflection on what happens for the rest of the tournament.

“Let's try and get off with a win and the momentum can build from there.

“Some teams can win the first couple of and then go off the boil, so you have to build it up like a season but within four weeks. You can't win it in the first week or so – but you can lose it.”