England centre-back Chris Smalling has played down reports he is struggling ahead of the game against Russia, despite pictures showing a strapping on his left knee (England 9/10, draw 12/5, Russia 4/1 – match odds).
The Manchester United star was pictured with the strapping as he stepped off the bus following England’s open training session on Tuesday at their Chantilly base.
Reports claimed that he was a fitness doubt ahead of the first game along with Southampton’s Ryan Bertrand, but the 26-year-old has moved quickly to deny the rumours.
Speaking ahead of the Russia game in Marseille, Smalling told reporters: “There’s no injury scare there. I normally ice my body or jump into an ice bath. It’s just a normal recovery process to be ready for the next day. No worries there.”
The former Fulham star has also revealed that confidence within the camp is high as England look to deliver on the big stage under manager Roy Hodgson (England 9/1 to win the tournament outright).
While he has refused to predict how far the Three Lions will go, Smalling insists the players are feeling good.
He added: “I think we are a confident bunch, but I think it’s a case of not necessarily setting targets. I think we need to go out there and take the games as they are. There’s a fearless factor so who knows where we can go?
“I think we’ve all come off a very successful playing time individually and on the whole we are feeling pretty fresh and just excited to be part of such a big occasion.
“Each day it gets closer and closer, the excitement is just drawing near. We are all itching to go.”
odds subject to change