Gary Lineker believes England head into Euro 2020 as genuine tournament contenders for the first time in a decade.
The former striker, who netted 48 goals for the Three Lions during a glittering playing career, refuses to be drawn on what would represent a successful summer for Gareth Southgate’s men.
But he cannot hide his excitement when it comes to the potential of the players Southgate, 50, has at his disposal.
Three Lions capable of glory
Speaking at the BBC’s Euro 2020 media launch event, Lineker said: “England have a chance in this tournament — and it’s the first time I’ve been able to say that realistically for a decade or so.
“So that’s good — but equally, you don’t want to put too much pressure on them.
“They are young lads and are going to be competitive for years to come but let’s not jinx them.”
Lineker, who won 80 senior caps for England, is optimistic about the prospects of his fellow countrymen but also feels the draw will have a big part to play.
Tough tests ahead
The 60-year old former Tottenham and Barcelona star added: “The truth is, it’s knockout football. It’s precarious. The draw looks tricky after the group stage, to be honest.
“After that, we may play France, Germany or Portugal — and that’s tough. A game like that would be genuine 50-50 material.
“It all depends how the draw pans out really. It looks like it’s going to be quite difficult not to qualify from the group stage the way it is structured now.
“But after that, I honestly don’t know.
“We know expectations are always high in this country but it’s going to be tough.
“If you play France, looking at their squad, they have to be the favourites for the competition in my view — so facing them would be a real challenge.”
The Three Lions face warm-up friendlies against Austria on Wednesday and Romania on Sunday, with both games being played at Middlesbrough’s Riverside Stadium.
Those fixtures will be the last chance for Southgate to run the rule over his squad before the tournament, where England have the advantage of playing all three of their group games at Wembley.
Croatia are up first on June 13, followed by a tasty meeting with old foes Scotland five days later and the Czech Republic on June 22.