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Euro 2016: Ex-Arsenal and Three Lions international Viv Anderson is ‘very excited’ for England youngsters

PUBLISHED: 13:00 11 June 2016 | UPDATED: 10:47 13 June 2016

Viv Anderson (right) and Terry Butcher show their delight after reaching the finish line of the Football to Amsterdam bike ride (pic: Prostate Cancer UK).

Viv Anderson (right) and Terry Butcher show their delight after reaching the finish line of the Football to Amsterdam bike ride (pic: Prostate Cancer UK).

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Ex-Arsenal and England defender Viv Anderson, who recently completed Prostate Cancer UK’s Football to Amsterdam bike ride, has given his backing to Roy Hodgson.

Viv Anderson lines up with his England team-mates before their Euro 1980 clash with Spain (pic: Empics) Viv Anderson lines up with his England team-mates before their Euro 1980 clash with Spain (pic: Empics)

Viv Anderson believes England have all the ingredients to enjoy a successful European Championships and put their poor 2014 World Cup campaign behind them.

The former Arsenal and England defender went to four major international tournaments during his own playing career, but only made one appearance at the 1980 Euros in Italy.

And he believes Roy Hodgson has done everything asked of him since the Three Lions bowed out of the World Cup disappointingly in the group phase.

England have a number of excellent young talents in their 23-man squad, including the likes of Tottenham Hotspur’s Dele Alli and Harry Kane.

Anderson believes picking the exuberant youth over experienced heads should serve Hodgson and his team well in France.

Viv Anderson during his time at Arsenal (pic: Empics) Viv Anderson during his time at Arsenal (pic: Empics)

“We were undefeated in the qualification, so Roy couldn’t have done any more and we beat Germany in a friendly,” said the 59-year-old, who recently completed the Football to Amsterdam cycling challenge for Prostate Cancer UK – cycling 145 miles in two days.

“It’s about time we did it on the big stage in a tournament and you are always optimistic before the competition starts, but for some reason we don’t ever seem able to perform when it comes down to it.

“After impressive qualification, I think we are ready to have a good Euros and we need one after the disastrous World Cup campaign in 2014. We have a good mix in the squad. We have mainly youngsters and I’m pleased we have gone down that path.

“We’ve been here before with the experience and they’ve not been able to produce, so I’m happy with Roy’s squad and it is good to see young Marcus Rashford of Manchester United included.”

The average age of the England squad is 25 and it’s the youngest they’ve ever taken to the Euros.

Anderson was just 24 when he went to Italy in 1980, but Ron Greenwood’s Three Lions were only involved in the tournament for six days – exiting in the group stage after coming third behind Belgium and Italy.

The right-back had longer stays away during the 1982 and 1986 World Cups, although the 1988 Euros in West Germany again saw England knocked out almost as soon as the action got underway.

But while some players can find being away on international duty boring, Anderson thoroughly enjoyed his time at tournaments with his country.

He added: “I think it depends on the mix of players, I was lucky in my day that we had a good group of old and younger guys and we all got on really well.

“Being away for a few weeks, it is important you pick the right group of people to be together. Roy has a lot of experience and people around him like Gary Neville who will know what the players want.”

England are in Group B along with Wales, Slovakia and Russia, who they face in their opening fixture at Marseille’s Stade Velodrome on Saturday aiming to win their first match at a major finals for the first time since 2006.

They lost their opening World Cup match two years ago to Italy, drew with France at Euro 2012, while in the 2010 World Cup could only draw 1-1 with the USA.

Anderson, who was the first black player to represent England in a full international match, said: “I’m really looking forward to the tournament and it would be great to see us perform this summer. We have always had that expectation as a nation and love to see youngsters come through.

“We had it before with players like Michael Owen and Steven Gerrard, but they’ve not always been able to deliver. Hopefully the young guys we have, like Dele Alli, and the others can do it this time.”

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