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Kyle Walker believes England have enough players with big-match experience to challenge for Euro 2024 glory – if they can perfect their mentality.
England rounded off 2023 with a forgettable 1-1 draw in North Macedonia on Monday night having already assured their spot at next summer’s finals by beating Italy last month.
Gareth Southgate’s side ended the calendar year unbeaten and topped Group C of Euro 2024 qualifying in the process.
The Euro 2020 runners-up will now be top seeds for December’s group-stage draw in Hamburg as England target their first major silverware since 1966.
Walker insists they ended the year well despite having already secured qualification amid criticism of the performances in North Macedonia and in the 2-0 Wembley win over Malta.
“I don’t think there’s really been a drop off,” he told Radio 5Live.
“There’s been a good win against Malta. Okay, if you go and score eight everyone says you should have gone and scored eight- if we don’t score eight it’s a problem.
We’re all mature, we’ve all been in big situations, Whether it’s Champions League finals, fighting for the Premier League, semi-finals of a World Cup, finals of the Euros
“So it’s three points. Never mind if it’s an eight or 1-0, it is still three points on the board. We know coming here, we should win. We should win but the campaign and the group is wrapped up and it was always going to be a difficult one.
“But I said at the start of the team talk that it’s about mentality now, we’ve got the group of players that we’ve had for a number of years now. We’re all mature, we’ve all been in big situations, whether it’s Champions League finals, fighting for the Premier League, semi-finals of a World Cup, finals of the Euros.
“Now it’s about our mentality. Now it’s about mentality on the field and off the field to make sure that we take this country to where it deserves and that is to hopefully pick up that European trophy.”
Walker, 33, has been installed as Manchester City captain this season but sported the armband for his country for the first time in Monday’s draw.
“It was a really proud moment when the manager pulled me aside this afternoon and told me that I would be leading the team out,” he added.
“Obviously I’m doing that for Manchester City now but to do it for my country is a real big step in the right direction and another thing I’ve ticked off my list.
“We had to be patient and try and break them down. They had a back five and it’s always going to be tough but that’s no excuse.
“We know that we should be coming here, taking three points and getting on the plane back home and celebrating qualifying with a good end to the campaign.
“But listen, we’ve qualified and let’s not underestimate that. We’ve qualified for a major tournament once again and that’s what we needed to really do.”
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