Team spirit the key for England, says Heitinga

Updated: 05 June 2012 18:56 IST

England may appear to be in turmoil having only hired a coach a month ago and losing three key players to injury in the last 10 days but Johnny Heitinga believes all is not doom and gloom.

Krakow, Poland:

England may appear to be in turmoil having only hired a coach a month ago and losing three key players to injury in the last 10 days but Johnny Heitinga believes all is not doom and gloom.

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The Dutch defender - who joined an unwanted club when he became the fifth player to be sent off in a World Cup final against eventual winners Spain in the 2010 edition - plays his club football in England for Everton where he runs-out alongside centre-back Phil Jagielka.

He also used to playing with Manchester City centre-back Joleon Lescott, who like Jagielka is now part of the England set-up under new manager Roy Hodgson.

But according to Heitinga, team spirit is the key to England's chances of turning adversity into success.

However, he admitted to being surprised that Manchester United's Rio Ferdinand was not going to the Euros despite the loss of fellow centre-back Gary Cahill.

"Now it's up to team spirit because the main players are not in the squad, hopefully other players can stand up," said the 28-year-old.

"Yes I'm quite surprised (about Ferdinand's ommission) but then on the other hand Phil Jagielka, my partner in the defence for Everton, is doing very well.

"There are no more centre-halves in the England squad but it's up to those (who are there).

"I was quite surprised in the beginning that they're going this way and hopefully they're going to play a good tournament.

"Lescott is there as well so they've still got a few good centre-halves.

"To win the prize the team spirit needs to be there, you can only succeed if you work hard and are there for each other."

As for his own side's chances, Heitinga - entering his fifth major finals after two previous European championships and two World Cup finals - believes now is the perfect time for the Dutch, whom he rates as one of the favourites.

"There's Spain, Germany and we are also one of the favourites," he said.

"It's never easy but if you see the squad we have, all the players are around 27, 28, 29.

"You don't get many chances to win a prize and this is an opportunity for us."

They have what on paper looks the toughest group alongside Germany and Portugal but Heitinga warned that even group outsiders Denmark should not be underestimated.

"There are no surprises, it's going to be tough and the main thing for us is the first game against Denmark," he added.

"It's not going to be easy because everybody's thinking about the games against Germany and Portugal but the main thing is Denmark.

"It's a difficult group but if you want to win the tournament you have to win those games as well."

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Topics mentioned in this article Euro 2012 Joleon Lescott Football Phil Jagielka John Heitinga Alou Diarra Lech Poznan
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