England start preparations for Iceland clash

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England will begin preparing in earnest for their last-16 tie against Iceland after their potential route through Euro 2016 took shape.

Since drawing against Slovakia on Monday and slipping to second in Group B behind Wales, Roy Hodgson's men have been waiting to find out their opponents in the first knockout stage and hopefully beyond.

It looked like being another date with Cristiano Ronaldo's Portugal until Iceland, tournament debutants and the lowest ranked side left in the competition at 34th in the world, snatched a last-gasp winner against Austria to rewrite the script.

Iceland, who are the smallest nation ever to reach the finals with a population of just 330,000, will meet the Three Lions in Nice on Monday.

England will surely be happy with their draw, particularly having finished as runners-up, but any burgeoning optimism must be balanced with a reality check.

Should they make the quarter-finals their opponents will either be hosts France or a Republic of Ireland side who beat Italy on Wednesday night.

The Italians, as well as the collective might of Germany and Spain, await in England's heavily stacked half of the draw.

But Iceland must be dealt with first, and England will resume training today after two days off where plans will begin to be formed.

For the opposition, the match is already being billed as a seismic national event.

Kari Arnason, man of the match in the 2-1 win over Austria, counts Plymouth, Aberdeen and Rotherham among his former clubs and said he had previously pulled for the England at major competitions.

"I've always supported England in big international tournaments, it's a dream come true," he said about Monday's game.

"We're going to go into the game fully focused, we're going in to get a result. We believe in our ability."

Arnason, now plying his trade in Sweden with Hodgson's former club side Malmo, was full of emotion after the final whistle.

It is estimated that around eight per cent of Iceland's population has made the trip to France, and the 33-year-old lent credence to that claim.

"What we've done is fantastic and it's extra fun to do this beside my best friends," he said.

"We're a really tight knit group... and of course all the supporters as well.

"Like I said before it's like having your family at the game. I know probably 50 per cent of the crowd, or at least recognise them.

"This is extra sweet for us."

Iceland's joint manager Heimir Hallgrimsson faced the press after his side's victory and immediately found his attention turned towards England.

"Icelanders know everything about English football. We're English football crazy," he said.

"I think everyone knows Iceland has to have the perfect game.

"Even if Iceland has its best performance ever we can still lose to nations and teams like England, that's just a fact. We just have to play our best."

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