Samir Nasri has admitted he is relieved that Wayne Rooney will not line up against him when France take on England at Euro 2012 on Monday in Donetsk.
Rooney will miss the first two games of the tournament against France and Sweden after being sent off in England’s final qualifier against Montenegro. He will return for the Three Lions' final group game against co-hosts Ukraine on June 19.
England go into what should be their toughest game of the group stages without their talisman, and Nasri admits it is a boost for Laurent Blanc’s side that the Manchester United forward is absent.
“Of course, England is not just Rooney, we have to remember that,” the Manchester City midfielder said.
“But it could be important that Rooney is out of the first game. Due to the style of his play and what he means to the team, I think they will miss him a lot.
“For France, it’s a relief we don’t have to face a player of that quality,” he added.
With Denmark showing against the Netherlands yesterday that the team with the widest array of attacking talent won’t always succeed, England will be hoping to stifle their illustrious opponents and grab at least a point against France.
They looked to be on course for victory when they met France in their first game of Euro 2004 thanks to a Frank Lampard header, but two late goals from Zinedine Zidane ensured that Les Blues walked away with all three points.
Nasri insists that in such a tough group, it is vital they do exactly the same this time round.
“It’s so important to do well in the first game of a tournament because it can be key in the group. If you lose, you have so much pressure on the next two games.
"A lot is at stake, so I think we will be going for a win in that match.
“The group is the most difficult of the Euros. Fighting against England and Sweden and then one of the hosts in Ukraine means just getting to the second phase is already success.
“It’s very, very difficult and I have to admit I didn’t like the draw when I saw it! But you have to play whoever comes your way, so we are ready.”