By Aidan Elder | Chief Sports Writer
– It’s lucky the Rio Ferdinand story didn’t become tedious or uninteresting a few days ago because it’s still running. He’s not at Euro 2012 and as such this story probably doesn’t belong here, but Rio says his international career has most likely come to an end. “You would have to say it might be over with England for me,” he said, kind of nailing his non-committal colours to the mast.
– If you’re the type of person who likes to jump to conclusions based on England training sessions that are open to the media, Danny Welbeck will start for England against France. The Manchester United striker (21) “impressed at training” apparently, scoring 16 goals in the 5 a side one touch game and collecting the bids with confidence. Of course no-one actually counts the goals they score in training. Except Pele.
– Jermaine Defoe has returned to the England training camp. He had returned home after the death of his father and was initially expected to miss Monday’s game with France.
– German hopes suffered a blow with the news that Per Mertesacker is fit and ready to play against Portugal. The Arsenal centre-back with a cargo liner turn of pace collided with Jerome Boateng in training on Thursday, but has been passed fit for tonight’s game.
– Poland and Greece got the football jamboree off to a good start courtesy of an entertaining 1-1 draw yesterday evening, but Russia’s demolition of the Czech Republic was the more eyebrow-raising result of the evening. Dick Advocaat’s men trounced the Czechs 4-1 and put themselves in a great position to win Group A. “There were too many of our players up front and that opened up gaps,” explained Petr Cech, no doubt quoting from the Kevin Keegan Guide To Tactics.
– Hopeless optimist, Niall Quinn says that Ireland will get out of their group. In his column for the Irish Independent, Quinn (45) outlined his hopelessly optimistic theory, a theory based largely on thinking Italy are a bit crap. “If Ireland go into the Italy game needing to win, I’m convinced we’ll reach the quarter-finals. Ireland can beat Italy,” he opined.