at the Union Buildings in Pretoria
London – Former England captain Alan Shearer believes the side enter Euro 2012 with expectations at their lowest-ever ebb.
And the Newcastle great also questioned England manager Roy Hodgson's controversial decision to leave Rio Ferdinand out of his squad, saying he would have taken the Manchester United central defender to Poland and Ukraine.
England may have won just one major trophy – the 1966 World Cup on home soil Ä but that hasn't stopped many of their subsequent appearances at leading tournaments being preceded by huge amounts of hype.
But with Hodgson only recently appointed and the squad beset by injuries, even England's most loyal fans don't give much for their chances this time around – including former striker Shearer.
“I can't see us winning it,” he said Wednesday. “I think it's the first time I can remember when we've gone into a tournament without huge expectations.
“We didn't even have a manager or a coach a month ago and we've had a lot of injuries,” he added.
Asked what was the best the team could hope for, Shearer replied: “I think maybe a semi final position for England.”
Ferdinand reacted angrily on Sunday when he learned he had been over-looked again by Hodgson, who called up Liverpool's inexperienced Martin Kelly instead of the United centre-back after Gary Cahill was forced to withdraw from the squad with a fractured jaw.
Hodgson claims he left Ferdinand out of his original Euro squad for “footballing reasons” even though it was widely believed the 33-year-old's absence was due to the presence in the group of John Terry.
Chelsea captain Terry will stand trial in July on charges of racially abusing Ferdinand's brother Anton during an match against QPR in October and many reports said Hodgson was keen not to select Rio to avoid a potential dressing room rift over the issue.
Shearer entered the debate by saying: “Every manager has the right to pick who he wants and who he doesn't want. But in my opinion, I'd have had Rio in the very first squad.”
England begin their Euro 2012 Group D campaign against France in Donetsk on June 11. – Sapa-AFP