John Stones believes England are “among the contenders” to win the European Championship in France this summer.
Stones was confirmed in Roy Hodgson’s 23-man squad on Tuesday, but, as one of only seven specialist defenders and three full-time centre-halves in the long list, that had never been in doubt.
Having only made the standby list for the World Cup in Brazil two years ago, he is one of a handful of players set to taste to tournament football for the first time, joining the likes of Harry Kane, Dele Alli, Eric Dier and 18-year-old Marcus Rashford.
But, unscarred by past disappointment, the 22-year-old Everton man is going in brimming with optimism.
“It’s tough because you don’t want to put pressure on it, but I’d like to think we’re among the contenders,” he told www.evertonfc.com.
“I’ve been saying we’re quietly confident to people, but obviously all the big teams will feel the same.
“We’ve beaten France and Germany since we qualified, which is a big boost and something that will hopefully stand us in good stead if we come up against them at any point.
“If you’re going to a Euros, you’re going to there to win it, because what’s the point in not?
“We’re proud as players and we want to make the nation proud too.”
England’s tournament-bound players will train as a group for the first time at Watford’s base on Wednesday, in preparation for their final warm-up match against Portugal at Wembley.