Euro 2016: 'Big moment' for England youngsters, says Wayne Rooney

England captain Wayne Rooney prepares for Euro 2016
England also face Slovakia and Wales in Group B
England v Russia
Venue: Stade Velodrome, Marseille Date: 11 June Kick-off: 20:00 BST
Coverage: Live commentary on BBC One, BBC Radio 5 live, the BBC Sport website and app. Live text commentary on every game on BBC Sport website.

England captain Wayne Rooney says Euro 2016 is a "big moment" for Roy Hodgson's team and a new generation of players making their tournament debuts.

Forward Harry Kane, 22, and midfielder Dele Alli, 20, are among those young players expected to feature prominently for Hodgson's team in France.

"This tournament could be a big moment for England and this group of players," said Rooney, 30, ahead of England's first game against Russia on Saturday.

"We have prepared well."

England v Russia: Full match preview

England have not won a major tournament since lifting the World Cup in 1966.

"We will have to wait and see what this tournament brings," said Hodgson. "The important thing is to not to get too hung up about the past."

.Gary Lineker tweet

England in three words

Rooney was asked for three words to sum up the side he will lead into the Euro 2016 opener in the Stade Velordrome.

"Disciplined. Focused. Exciting," were the 30 year-old's choices - and he believes this young team is ready to deliver in France.

He said: "I have said it quite a lot that this team is exciting and we are ready for the tournament. I can't wait. It is my sixth tournament and I am genuinely excited.

"We will see if they can enjoy it, the younger lads. I have put too much pressure on myself at past tournaments and not done as well and as much as I have wanted to.

"Hopefully we give good performances. There has been a lot of expectation and pressure on me in the past and I have probably put that on myself as well. We now have a lot of match-winners in the squad I am not putting myself under enormous pressure like I have done in previous tournaments."

Euro 2016: England play Russia, Wales and Slovakia

Alli a target for Russia?

Alli's temperament was questioned after he missed the last three games of Tottenham's season for punching West Bromwich Albion's Claudio Yacob in a 1-1 draw at White Hart Lane that marked the beginning of the end of Spurs' title challenge.

The 20-year-old was also the target for obvious provocation in the recent Wembley victory against Portugal but Hodgson is happy the youngster has the temperament to cope in a major tournament.

He said: "He gets a lot of advice from a lot of people. I am not concerned about that. It is a situation he faces each week.

"As far as I am concerned, if he is selected to play I will select him because he is Dele Alli. He obviously realises as much as anybody that he needs to be careful and we want to finish the game with 11 men.

"This is his responsibility but me making a big point of it could detract from his game. These are the delicate balances all coaches must go through with players who occasionally get a reputation for being easy to provoke."

Analysis

Phil McNulty, BBC Sport's chief football writer

England manager Roy Hodgson starts his third major tournament in charge when their Euro 2016 campaign begins against Russia in Marseille.

And the 68-year-old was in relaxed mood as he faced the media inside the vast arena that is the Stade Velodrome - the caution of years of experience clearly laced with the excitement generated by his young, emerging squad.

England have generated the usual positive messages from inside their camp in secluded Chantilly but what matters now is their performance in an edgy atmosphere in this sprawling city.

Hodgson must decide whether to pursue the positive game plan that could see Manchester City's Raheem Sterling and Liverpool's Adam Lallana included in a side that may yet relegate Leicester's title-winning inspiration Jamie Vardy to the sidelines.

England have not won the opening game of either tournament Hodgson has led, in Euro 2012 in Poland and Ukraine and the World Cup in Brazil two years ago - a similar failure here will pile on huge pressure going into the key game with Wales in Lens.

The future of Hodgson himself rests on this tournament. Progression out of the group stage, a feat that was beyond England in Brazil, and after that a place in the last eight will surely see him awarded a new contract to take him to the next World Cup in Russia in 2018.

Anything less than that and there will be serious questions about whether he is the man the Football Association wants to take England forward.

It is in the hands of Hodgson and his team. And he was displaying a relaxed confidence before the serious business starts in the heat of the south of France.

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