Club success bodes well for England this summer

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Denmark in 1992. Greece in 2004. Could it be England's time to shine, and beat the odds in 2012?

With expectations at an all-time low heading into the European Championships this summer, Roy Hodgson may have a better chance of success in Poland and Ukraine than any of his Three Lions predecessors.

Far from the strongest group of players assembled by England in recent years, on paper there are at least five nations - Spain, Germany, Holland, Italy and France - with superior squads than the one preparing to be sent into battle in June.

The likes of Croatia, Russia, Portugal and host nation Poland are also countries that should be considered a threat, or at the very least on a par with England in terms of potential ahead of the major finals. So limited are Hodgson's options, any real hope of a triumphant tournament remain halfhearted.

No one seriously expects England to do anything spectacular this summer. But, if they could just do themselves justice in terms of preparation, performances and off-field behaviour between games, that in itself would be a vast improvement.

The current crop of players have no cause for overconfidence for anything they have ever achieved on the international stage. Domestically, though, there is a winning mentality that must be tapped into.

Fresh from their Champions League final success in Munich on Saturday, Frank Lampard, Ashley Cole, Gary Cahill and John Terry - three of which played pivotal parts in Chelsea's victory over Bayern Munich in the Allianz Arena - will be brimming with phlegm and determination to maintain their recent momentum.

The nature of the result - a penalty shoot-out win over their Bundesliga counterparts - is also sure to renew optimism in the Three Lions' ranks. 'England never win penalty shoot-outs', is the common claim. And, they certainly never win them against the Germans. "They do now," exclaimed left-back Cole, in a post-match interview at the weekend.

Hodgson was in Germany to see the Blues lift the European trophy, and made no secret of his hopes that the result will play a positive part in England's aspirations ahead of Euro 2012.

"They were excellent," he said. "It was an excellent Chelsea performance and the team were quite fantastic. It's a great success, not only for Chelsea, but for the whole of English football.

"Let's hope some of the players there last night can take that form into the Euros because if they can play as well as that then that will boost our chances."

The 64-year-old can also look to the English representatives from Manchester City's 2011-12 Premier League title winning squad - Joe Hart, Joleon Lescott, James Milner and Gareth Barry - to bring a positive outlook off the back of their domestic glory. That too could play into England's hands.

If those players can share their new mood among the rest of the England squad ahead of their first group stage game against France on June 11, then it could mean that for the first time in four international tournaments, we might be going in with a potentially winning mentality.

The current stance on the national team's credentials, certainly makes for a refreshing change. For once, the players will not be burdened by the pressure of expectation.

As England fans tentatively prepare for this summer's tournament fearing the worst, Hodgson and Co. have a fighting chance of coming out the other end of it being slightly better than is anticipated.

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