Euro 2012 qualification 'almost' sealed - John Terry

Captain John Terry believes England have "almost" qualified for the Euro 2012 finals in Poland and Ukraine following Friday's 3-0 win in Bulgaria.

The 30-year-old also says a new-found competition for places is benefiting England, who now top Group G by three points with two games remaining.

"We are almost there," said Terry. "It was a good performance and a great win. We asked for that yesterday.

"What we are seeing is competition for places all over the pitch."

Terry's Chelsea team-mate Frank Lampard, who has been a regular starter under coach Fabio Capello, began Friday's game in Sofia on the bench as the Italian opted to field Tottenham's new signing Scott Parker alongside Manchester City's Gareth Barry in central midfield.

In addition, Terry's usual partner in central defence, Rio Ferdinand of Manchester United, was omitted from the squad as Capello had doubts over his fitness, meaning a first start for Gary Cahill, who scored the opener in Sofia.

Ferdinand's club-mates Ashley Young and Chris Smalling - making his debut - also started the game, while Phil Jones was in the squad, but did not feature.

On the subject of Lampard no longer being regarded as an automatic starter, Terry responded: "That goes for all of us, myself included.

"We have seen the manager leave Rio out in the week - he said he had to play for Manchester United - so we all feel it. We are all here and wanting the same result.

"[The new young players] have brought a lot of enthusiasm into the camp and they are a big part of England's future."

England next face Wales on Tuesday, knowing that if they avoid defeat against Gary Speed's side they will need just one point from their final game against nearest challengers Montenegro to qualify for the European Championship next summer.

But with Wales beating Montenegro on Friday, Terry is predicting another difficult game in midweek at Wembley.

"[Wales] have shown tonight that they can compete with some really tough sides, so it's going to be tough."

There were fears that striker Wayne Rooney, who scored two of England's goals in Sofia, would not be fit for the game after picking up a foot injury, but the Manchester man has dismissed such concerns.

"It is no problem," said Rooney. "I just landed on it in the second half and the physio has looked at it and said it's fine and I'll take part in training on Saturday."

This will come as good news for coach Fabio Capello, who was delighted to have Rooney back on top form following a run of just one goal in 15 internationals prior to the Bulgaria game.

"Rooney is really important because he is a player with movement," said the Italian. "He creates a lot of space for the other players and doesn't only stay upfield.

"He comes back and his movement creates difficulties for opponents."

However, with reference to Tuesday's game, Capello added: "We need to be careful. When we play at home we don't start very well in the first half and after that we recover in the second half."

Top Stories