Joe Hart remains confident about England’s Euro 2016 prospects and believes nobody will want to face them in the knock-out rounds.
Roy Hodgson’s men played some fine, intelligent football in qualifying for the last 16, yet they progress as Group B runners-up having been undermined by a lack of cutting edge.
The inability to turn domination into goals allowed Russia to secure a last-gasp draw in their opening match and, having enjoyed a memorable 2-1 win against Wales, England failed to break down well-drilled Slovakia on Monday.
England managed 28 attempts throughout the one-sided clash in St Etienne, only for the encounter to end 0-0 thanks to a mixture of fine goalkeeping, resolute defending and poor finishing.
Hart was understandably frustrated by the result and the fact it allowed Wales to usurp them at the top of Group B, but the goalkeeper has seen enough from his trophy-hungry team-mates to remain confident of a successful summer.
“We’re going to have to look to make that happen for us,” Hart said.
“That’s our future now, that’s our destiny. We’re going to look to build on three good performances.
“Result-wise not great, but performance-wise I don’t think anyone will be looking forward to playing us.
“We’re inspired by each other. We believe in each other, we feel good and we’re playing some good football.
“We believe it’s going to be the right football that’s going to get us far in this tournament.”
Finishing second does make England’s route to the Stade de France finale more treacherous, even if a kind-looking last-16 tie may await against Hungary, Iceland or Austria, alternatively the worst-case scenario of Portugal.
“It’s a different format this time,” Hart said. “Hopefully we’re going to benefit from that.
“But, like I say, there’s no point in ifs and buts – we’ve finished second, we play next Monday in Nice and we’re going to be ready for it.
“We’re still in this tournament. There’s going to be loads of football to watch, loads of exciting times to watch.
“We’ll be in our training camp, we’ll be training hard. We’ll be prepared for every situation. It’s no different.
“I think quickly you adjust your life and our life is what it is at the moment and we’re enjoying it.”
Hodgson gave the squad Tuesday and Wednesday off to relax and recharge ahead of the last-16 tie, which Hart, like his team-mates that spoke after the Slovakia draw, approaches in an upbeat mindset.
That confidence is borne out of England’s solid defensive displays and belief their “fantastic strikers” will soon kick into gear, while Hart also defended Hodgson amid criticism for making six changes in St Etienne.
“Anyone on merit deserves to be in this team,” Hart said after six changes were made against Slovakia. “I think everyone’s aware of that, we’re all aware of our positions.
“To go far in the tournament you need fresh legs and when you’ve got the quality that we’ve got I think it was the right decision.
“We’d love to have been stood here 2-0 and looking like an even better decision, but it is what it is. We’re going to be fit and ready for the next game.”